The FAA should expand its efforts to assess whether its workforce has the skills needed to respond to emerging technologies and non-traditional users, such as unmanned aircraft systems, GAO has said.
GAO credited the FAA with addressing the issue through an agency-wide strategic workforce planning initiative started in 2018 to assess the skills FAA’s workforce “needs today and will increasingly need in the future” in areas such as data analytics, project management and cybersecurity. Some individual offices also have taken steps to identify critical future skills in their own areas, a report said.
However, it said the agency lacks solid data on existing skills gaps in its workforce, saying that a round of interviews with managers and staff in 2019 “yielded useful information on the skills needed” but “did not provide measurable data showing how many employees have the skills needed and where gaps exist.” A larger skills gaps assessment by the parent Transportation Department also produced some data but the FAA’s response rate was low, it said.
“As a result, the information FAA has collected may not provide a complete assessment of whether its workforce has the critical skills needed to respond to technology changes. Recognizing these limitations, FAA officials said they intend to conduct additional skill gap assessments. However, officials said that because FAA is a large and dynamic agency, the process of completing agency-wide skill gap assessments will require better coordination with individual FAA offices,” it said.
“Thus, FAA has shifted its focus to developing a strategic workforce-planning policy and community of practice to facilitate agency-wide coordination on workforce-planning activities. These efforts represent positive steps and could help FAA conduct more comprehensive skill gap assessments in the future,” it said.