While life overseas may not be easy, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni does provide a unique backdrop for fulfilling gainful employment. With base population growth on the rise the need for more staff is a constant struggle in the hiring department but MCCS is taking steps to fill the gaps and provide quality service for those stationed aboard.
The growth of the MCAS Iwakuni community, due to some Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI) projects, and a doubling of the base population, has created challenges such as the ability to open new facilities on time due to a limited applicant pool both on and off base.
One DPRI project recently completed is The Hanger an enlisted club concept that also boasts Taco Bell and Burger King. Unfortunately Taco Bell and Burger King did not open due to shortages in staffing and hiring.
"The challenge was hiring staff. [The Hangar] is a wonderful facility with many capabilities that include a state of the art nightclub, high-quality billiards and darts room, and a lounge area with Wi-fi and soft seating to relax and congregate. Now that we have staffing, we are able to open to the community for their enjoyment."
The shortage of employees has also impacted our Crossroads Food Court to support the five name brand food concepts and two in-house concepts. In the past four months, hours of operations had to be reduced due to the insufficient staff to support the concepts.
There are many factors about hiring and staffing issues, one being the average unemployment rate in the local Japanese community is around 2% which makes it tough to recruit off the installation. Overall, MCCS has a 49% job vacancy rate and competes with other organizations throughout the installation.
Iwakuni is considered remote and isolated due to its geographic location on mainland Japan. With that in mind, MCCS Iwakuni’s civilian labor pool is limited to candidates living in the local area or worldwide hires. MCCS fiscal year 2016 (FY16) turnover for the organization was 63%. Due to the historical difficulty in achieving full staffing levels, and with the continued growth of the installation, employment related incentives have been implemented to encourage applicants for employment from all sources. Over the past two years MCCS has been averaging close to a 50% vacancy rate. The hardest positions to fill are the entry-level positions throughout MCCS, especially in the food arena.
In the past 12 months, MCCS leadership have taken very aggressive and decisive initiatives for recruiting and retention to positively impact the vacancy rate of the organization, including contractors from the local community.Below is a list of initiatives:
Bonus and Incentives
(Applies to Cat-C/NF-3 & below FT & PT employees)
Employees that have taken advantage of the current incentives as follows:
NAF Referral Bonus / 61 referrals YTD April 2017
Relocation/Employment Incentive / 4 candidates YTD June 2017
Retention Bonus / 130 eligible employees YTD June 2017
Childcare Subsidy / 25 employees YTD June 2017
Implemented and Pending Initiatives
The following are additional recruitment initiatives that we are counting on to help with the recruitment and retention for MCCS Iwakuni:
| Recruitment videos created and playing across MCCS and AFN
| Stars & Stripes employment ads
| Dual compensation and employment exception in place
| Wage division request to increase the base step rate for Craft & Trade positions pending
| Addition of Active Duty flexible status positions with an upgraded job description paying $15 per hour
While MCCS has been very proactive with different employment incentives over the past year, the labor shortage in critical customer service positions continues. Management just introduced a new flexible status position, targeting active duty military to work on evenings and weekends, which has very positive early results. In our first week of recruitment, MCCS received over 25 applications for these positions in our food activities. These new hires will help fill current vacancies in the food court and help us open new food activities at the Hangar E-Club and Pizza Hut at Strike Zone Bowling Center. MCCS still needs to hire an additional 70+ applicants to cover different shifts throughout the week in the food areas.
All said, with the incentives and policies in place there is an air of optimism looking forward. With The Hangar opening and future activities like Chili’s and the beauty salon starting operations soon, MCAS Iwakuni will be another step closer to providing accommodations for those aboard.