Government Executive Magazine - 9/6/00 More training means better results, OPM says

Investing in workforce training can help agencies better accomplish their missions while addressing workforce planning issues, according to a new report from the Office of Personnel Management.

OPM's "Guide to Strategically Planning Training and Measuring Results" comes at a time when agencies have completed the first cycle of 1993's Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and are being forced to address the impact of a workforce in transition. In the coming years, agencies must deal with the effects of a wave of impending retirements, an extremely competitive job market and government downsizing during the 1990s.

"Effective training can help provide employees with the skills they need while addressing other human resource problems, such as turnover. The key is to plan your training strategically," the guide said.

GPRA requires agencies to set performance goals each year and submit reports on whether they have met their goals. In his fiscal 2001 budget request, President Clinton declared strategic human capital management an administration priority. And in June, he issued a memo to agency heads ordering them to incorporate human resources management goals into their annual performance plans, beginning in October.

OPM's guide suggests agencies tackle both priorities by looking at their established goals to develop effective training strategies, and then tie training into strategic plans. Agencies should use focus groups, surveys and current performance data to identify skills necessary for employees to accomplish their work. At the same time, they should identify weak spots in the current and future workforce and plan accordingly, OPM said.

OPM used the Department of Transportation as an example of how to analyze existing goals to identify training requirements. DOT's goal to reduce highway fatalities and injuries requires its agencies to educate the public and support states in enforcing seat belt use. To launch an effective public awareness campaign and build partnerships with stakeholders, employees need to be able to use technology to reach people, analyze statistical data and be aware of state seat belt laws. The agency must determine the skills employees need to accomplish the overall mission, and find out where training, funding and improved technology are needed.

OPM's guide offers an extensive bibliography from the federal sector and industry on identifying strategic training requirements.

The guide is available online in PDF format at OPM's Web site.

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