The Federal News Network surveyed six agencies and one large government contractor about the continued development of their human resources program. They took the results from the survey and put them together in a document, Strategic Guidance Survey: Reskilling, Training and Retention. And while there is no one answer to each problem faced within each agency, there are common themes and takeaways “that are driving to a universal end result: Employees who are successfully prepared to take on the mission of today and in the future,” said Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Network.

The survey asked representatives from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Defense Acquisition University, Air Force Civilian Force Management, Veteran Affairs Department, the US Coast Guard, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Raytheon Misses and Defense five questions. The questions focused around challenges and changes that came from the COVID-19 pandemic, barriers, or challenges for recruitment especially with a focus on careers in tech, and current training and future workforce needs.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Government

The government was forced to overcome many challenge because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While agencies have considered telework options for employees, it was vital for agencies to find a way to continue the work being done without having to physically be in the office. One big takeaway was, “We can adopt some of these things that the private sector is doing. We increase the talent pools if we start to look beyond the immediate DC region, or the immediate geographical region. We recruit a little bit differently, because we can be supported through remote work.”

Agencies have realized to “accept change or lose.” Agencies understand that pre-COVID life is a thing of the past and they need to adapt and change to meet the current work forces needs. The message of “we can’t” has begun to change into “how can we.” This change of philosophy is giving agencies not only more flexibility but also enticing workers who are searching for their flexibility in their own life.

Challenge Extended and Possible Solutions

One challenge for government agencies is finding a way to determine what type of employees and skills they will need in the future. The government has programs that allow workers to cross train or the ability to recruit potential public servants in college or even high school. But if the agency cannot foresee the employees, they will need in the future, they can’t plan to recruit that workforce years in advance. Some skills take years to train.

There are some artificial intelligence programs that are being used to sort through resumes. If that tool could be redirected, it could go through the resume of the current workforce and see if current employees could be retrained or moved for promotion though new programs. It could help the government agencies continue to make the changes needed to adapt and change while providing employees the opportunity for advancement and training they are searching for.

Take the Lessons Learned and use them

Steve Dobberowsky, director of strategy and value services with Cornerstone OnDemand ends his analysis by saying, “I think what we should be looking for are the flexibilities that are present, and simply ask to use them more frequently. We’re in a better spot post-COVID, because we learned that we can do it. And we can do it safely. And it really increases our flexibility and our people like it.”

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Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019 she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military. In 2020, she was published as a collaborative author in Brave Women Strong Faith. And in 2021, she launched a YouTube channel to help young women answer their questions about military life, Girl’s Guide to the Military. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.