Between the Classroom and the Job – Acquisition Training
“I will apply the new knowledge and skills to my job.”
It’s the last day of class. You’re filling out the course evaluation and get to the above statement. You’ve just had a great training experience and without a doubt you’re better now than before you walked in here. You confidently check “yes” and head home for the weekend. But will you apply your knowledge on the job? When?
Sadly, many acquisition professionals won’t be taking what they’ve just learned in the classroom and effectively applying it on-the-job—at least not right away. A lot of students taking acquisition or contracting courses are actively completing or maintaining certification requirements. While required certification provides essential foundational knowledge for contracting officials, it also leaves some individuals with noticeable performance gaps.
Acquisition certification programs, by design, cover a lot of ground. They have to. But this also means that, in some cases, it can be years between when a contracting professional learns something in the classroom and encounters it on the job. Even the best training can’t impact that kind of retention. Adults learn by doing.
While covering material to meet a certification provides a knowledge baseline, it doesn’t always transfer to performance. The many concerns over the performance of the federal acquisition workforce have been widely documented (here and here are just two recent examples). There has to be a better way to bridge the gap between foundational knowledge and effective performance on the job.
We’ve come up with a solution: our new Acquisition Workforce Performance Improvement service synchronizes training with an organization’s needs and pairs an experienced coach and job aids to ensure the mission is achieved. By providing point-of-execution learning and including all the members of an acquisition team, organizations can capitalize on the impact of training when it’s most important.
This approach shows contracting professionals how to do the work, goes over it with them, and oversees the application of these skills, on-the-job and in real time—leaving students prepared and confident to handle the work on their own the next time. More information on our four-pronged methodology is available here.