Federal contractors are grappling with the shift towards skills-based hiring as the government’s education requirements for certain positions hinder their efforts. For companies that rely on federal contracts have stipulated requirements, including four-year degrees and security clearances, which limit the talent pool. While the federal government has advocated skills- and competency-based hiring for federal jobs, this directive doesn’t encompass federal contractors. The limitations are compounded by a decrease in four-year degree holders and an inability of universities to keep pace with emerging technologies.
Despite these challenges, many companies are still employing skills-based hiring for critical technical roles like machine learning, cybersecurity, cloud engineering, and more. However, these skills-based employees can’t be used for federal IT contracts, limiting their contributions to government projects. Despite the hurdles, there is a growing trend in the industry to prioritize skills and competencies over formal education, with many large organizations and some states embracing the change to address IT skill shortages. But keep your eyes on this trend, as it should slowly shift in the coming years.
Contract Opportunities to Watch: Palantir
Palantir Technologies has secured a contract worth up to $250 million through 2026 from the U.S. Army to enhance support for Combatant Commands, Armed Services, Intelligence Community, and Special Forces in their deployment and scaling of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. Since 2018, Palantir has been collaborating with the Army to offer data integration, management, and AI model training for these entities to establish a common operating picture. This partnership expansion aims to further the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) efforts, reinforcing the innovation and advanced data applications delivered to the Armed Services. Akash Jain, President of Palantir USG, emphasized the importance of evolving solution deployment for preserving the nation’s competitive advantage in various contexts.
Key Employer in the Cleared Industry: Booz Allen
Textron Aviation is addressing the skills gap by transforming a former warehouse space into a centralized Hiring and Training Center in Wichita, aimed at streamlining HR, onboarding, and technical training. The 100,000 sq. ft. facility, set to open in 2024, will merge various training operations into one location, aligning with Textron’s plans to hire approximately 2,000 employees in 2023 and a similar number in 2024. The emphasis on training underscores the company’s commitment to developing a skilled workforce to meet its growing needs.