John Sutkowsky, deputy equal employment opportunities manager at Tobyhanna Army Depot, provides supervisory training.

New initiatives at Tobyhanna Army Depot focus on building greater equal employment opportunities.

The depot’s expanded employment opportunity program includes aggressive recruitment efforts, listening sessions, supervisory training, and partnerships. Each aspect aligns with a long-range strategic plan, Toby 2028, and the Army’s Project Inclusion, a broad effort to eliminate institutional barriers that hinder individual development and advancement for enlisted and civilian personnel.

Anne Gebhardt, a human resource specialist in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, and her team are connecting with local communities to spread the word about career opportunities.

“A lot of people travel to New York City, Allentown or Bethlehem to work. But if they knew about opportunities within their commuting area, they could stay local,” she said. “That’s where our focus is now.”

Less than 15% of Tobyhanna’s workforce hails from the immediate area. The majority of employees commute from Lackawanna County. Yet, as the culture of Northeast Pennsylvania grows more dynamic, the recruiting effort has a multi-faceted approach.

“We’re reaching out to nonprofits, employment agencies and state representatives,” said Gebhardt. “Our goals are to increase partnerships with the local community, collaborate with schools – invite them here and let them see for themselves.”

Representatives from Tobyhanna and the personnel advisory center met with these community support groups to discuss potential career paths for the individuals they serve and offer perspective on the depot’s mission and impact on the region. Students from local high schools have been welcomed for tours of the operations.

In light of the visitor restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual approach to community outreach has been taken. Advisory center representatives participate in virtual career fairs hosted by area career agencies and schools. Some of the events take place on the hosting organization’s web tools designed for that purpose, while others are planned to utilize the popular video conferencing application, Zoom.

Feedback from current depot employees is being garnered though listening sessions, led by Equal Employment Opportunity Manager John Sutkowsky. The sessions included questions designed to spark conversations about current events and workplace culture.

“Our employees have been vocal about the good – and bad – parts of our workplace culture,” he said. “These sessions have provided insight that can help Tobyhanna become a better organization for all.”

Depot personnel are pursuing additional strategic partnerships with educational institutions and community organizations as another venue for recruiting a diverse workforce, according to Heather Fiedler, the depot’s organizational development specialist.

“Although the pandemic has limited our ability to reach out, Tobyhanna has already developed meaningful relationships with new partners like Women’s Resources of Monroe County and Newark Technical High School. We’ve also taken steps to strengthen our relationship with partners like Northampton Community College. These partnerships are part of our larger Project Inclusion efforts,” she said.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna.

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