Employees, vendors get demo of online HR training tool

Employees and outside vendors got a demo on Wednesday of an online training tool for federal human resources managers.

The event, hosted by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, marked the second phase in the rollout of the government's Human Resources University, a Web-based platform offering a course catalog, career guide for current and future HR professionals, and information on specific topics, including recruitment and benefits.

"It kind of feels like giving birth," said Rita Franklin, deputy chief human capital officer for the Energy Department, of creating the"one-stop shopping"destination for job training for federal HR managers. Most agencies already have their own learning management systems and training for HR employees. Officials said the Human Resources University should serve as a complement to those programs, housing in one place courses, tips, self-assessments and career mapping tools.

The idea behind the site is to help guide the career trajectory of federal HR managers while ensuring they receive the technical and core competencies they need to excel in their field, officials said.

An August 2010 report from Partnership for Public Service and consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP found 46 percent of 68 CHCOs surveyed reported their HR staffs lack the skills necessary to implement new federal hiring practices. In May, President Obama issued a memorandum on hiring reform, directing agencies to give HR managers training and more of a role in the hiring process. The CHCO Council and OPM have been working on developing the one-stop training portal for HR managers since 2009.

The courses, some free and some at a cost, now are available to federal employees at the Human Resources University website. The CHCO Council and the Office of Personnel Management are looking at expanding the offerings to those outside the government who might be interested in federal HR jobs. The courses listed currently are offered by other federal agencies; Wednesday's event was designed to solicit feedback from employees and introduce the tool to vendors who might be interested in providing training.

OPM is vetting all the courses it offers to users, said Kathryn Medina, executive director of the CHCO Council. Medina said she hopes the online tool can serve as a model for training in other career paths. The site soon will feature tips, best practices and other lessons learned from CHCOs.

Agencies will pay for the courses from their own budgets, said Medina, though a number of current offerings are free. The CHCO Council used its own funds to set up the online tool. "We did it on a shoestring," Medina said, adding that many of the training resources already existed and only needed to be pooled together.

The final phase of the project is to design a certification program for federal HR managers, combining core competencies and a standard curriculum. At Wednesday's event, moderator John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership, asked the room of government employees and vendors if anyone thought HR certification was a bad idea. Not a single hand went up.

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