US Army Corps of Engineers
Far East District

New employment initiative targets Far East Region military spouses

Far East District
Published Aug. 20, 2019
Penny Ferguson (left), a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Far East District (FED) workforce management specialist, speaks with a colleague at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, Aug, 21.

Penny Ferguson (left), a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Far East District (FED) workforce management specialist, speaks with a colleague at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, Aug, 21.

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – Servicemembers are expected to move several times throughout their military career, with their family members accompanying them to duty stations all across the world. Being able to provide job opportunities and career resources for servicemembers’ spouses has become a priority in the Far East Region.

The Military Spouse Hiring Initiative is a new program that will allow military spouses to meet one-on-one with a local human resources (HR) representative to review their qualifications and receive feedback and career guidance.

Stephanie Nishimori, a Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) HR assistant, leads this program and as a military spouse herself, understands the importance of this initiative.

“Military spouses and their families don’t always come to Korea or the Far East Region as a whole because many of them are concerned about job opportunities,” said Stephanie. “So what we are trying to do is expedite hiring processes for spouse hiring and for Korea to be the assignment of choice.  We are working to provide our spouses with enough opportunities to get work that they’re qualified for and that they enjoy doing to keep them happy while they’re overseas.”

Nishimori went on to state that most families are assigned here for two years, which is a long time to be out of work and can cause stress among the family unit.

Prior to introducing this initiative, the military spouse non-competitive hiring process was and still is a system that allows spouses to be prioritized for jobs based on spousal preference. However, the new initiative streamlines the process and ensures that spouses have the proper qualifications for potential jobs opportunities.

“It’s very much the same program, except now, spouses are able to come in and talk with any of us and get some feedback on their resume,” said Nishimori. “We are actually sending the resumes to the HR specialists that have available positions.”

Nishimori went on to state that the HR office can actually appoint a spouse to a hiring manager if they think they’re a good fit for a position.

“The ultimate idea is to get spouses hired faster,” said Nishimori.

According to Nishimori, in the CPAC office alone they have hired 16 military spouses within the last year which she said is a significant number in an office of 40 personnel.

As a military spouse, Nishimori stated that she enjoys being the lead for this program and assisting others to find employment. She shared that it wasn’t a fast process for her when arriving to Korea, and she’d like to prevent others from being delayed with securing a job. Nishimori also stated that there’s a negative perception among the spouses in regards to finding a job while being abroad.

“Being able to be on the forefront and let spouses know that I have been there and I understand is an important aspect of this program, “said Nishimori. “Let’s work through this together.”

Nishimori stated that it’s important to note, when spouses are appointed through this program it is a temporary term appointment up to 18 months, but they are not losing military spouse preference.

“They are able to keep applying to a permanent position,” said Nishimori. “It also gives them the opportunity to work with the hiring manager to potentially secure a permanent position.”

Penny Ferguson, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Far East District (FED) workforce management specialist, has been a military spouse since 2010. She has been able to secure employment in most places where her husband has served.

Prior to working at the FED, Ferguson was located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and decided to use the leave without pay option prior to her family relocating to Korea. This option allows her computation time for retirement to stay within the government system.

“It helps tremendously,” said Ferguson. “As long as you are picked up in six months you still keep your service comp (computation) dates.

Although Ferguson was hired as already being a government employee, she stated that she’s excited about the new hiring initiative and wants to learn more.

“When you’re moving duty stations from CONUS (continental United States) to OCONUS (outside the continental United States), and vice versa, it’s hard to really find out what is available,” said Ferguson. “Knowing that when you get here, you can reach out to CPAC is great.”