Federal agencies typically look to fill workforce needs by bringing in new employees, but “with competition for new talent steep in several occupations, meeting future hiring needs and closing the technology skills gap requires a more forward-looking approach” with a strong focus on retraining current employees, a new report says.
The report from the Partnership for Public Service says that “it has become more difficult for agencies to hire and retain top talent in certain fields” such as cybersecurity and other IT related occupations and that agencies will face the same problem in filling the jobs of the future as artificial intelligence and other arising technologies are incorporated into the government workplace.
“Providing people with new skills is a valuable way to retain mission-driven federal employees with institutional knowledge who would otherwise be lost through attrition as roles are displaced . . . Reskilling and upskilling could also give employees the opportunity to do more meaningful work beyond the routine tasks automation can handle, potentially leading to more engaged employees,” the report says.
It said that agencies should (in the report’s words):
* “Predict how work will transform: Develop a vision of what jobs will look like, what skills will be required and what future needs will be.
* “Assess employee skills: Develop a skills inventory to understand workforce capabilities—the skills employees already have and which ones they lack—to identify whether the workforce has the ability to do tomorrow’s work.
* “Get workforce buy-in: Recruit leaders, managers and front-line supervisors willing to commit to reskilling and upskilling by making the business case and showcasing employee successes. Encourage employee support by emphasizing the importance of learning new skills and bring them along by communicating upcoming changes.
* “Find the right candidates: Find interested and capable employees to ensure successful training outcomes.
* “Be prepared: Determine if your agency has the resources and infrastructure to start a new program. Target specific skills and positions for retraining and provide opportunities for employees to use their new skills.”