Procurement Workforce Needs New Approach to Training
This week, Federal News Radio.com is airing a three-part special report called “The Missing Pieces of Procurement Reform” and it is well worth tuning in to hear how some of the leading minds on Federal acquisition workforce development are weighing in.
Yesterday’s segment, Acquisition workers as critical thinkers: A change that has to happen zeroed in on some of the underlying challenges to improving acquisition workforce development, along with some of the innovations and approaches for better preparing the acquisition workforce.
A number of workforce development improvements are already in the works. For example, OFPP and FAI are working to flush out the CORE Plus tracks geared to provide specialized training in a given area once FAC-C training is complete. The initial track is for buying IT products and services and we’re told is due out by the end of the year.
DAU, for example, would like for students to spend less time in the classroom and more time on the job. This “flipped classroom” approach would rely on e-learning capabilities for some portions of the training, such as policies and procedures, and follow up with custom scenario-based exercises in the classroom.
If you’ve been in one of our classes recently, you know that Management Concepts is already increasing the use of activities in our contracting courses where students apply previously gained knowledge and critical thinking skills to work through case-based scenarios.
These advances, however, need to be coupled with more focus on students demonstrating the proper competencies for their job — just because someone is “certified” doesn’t mean they’re demonstrating “competence.” The gaps identified in competency assessments need to be closed, either by targeted training or a method of access to on-demand tools, how-to’s, OJT, coaching, or mentoring.
For new approaches to development to have maximum impact, larger issues such as contracting’s risk-averse culture, one-size-fits-all certification programs, or pervasive budget constraints need to be addressed. And they won’t be overnight changes.
So as this larger issue of procurement reform inches forward, it remains incumbent upon workforce development organizations to continue providing the most effective tools, resources, and approaches to arm individual contracting professionals—and their agencies—with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to meet the mission.