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OPM Directs Agencies to Close Skills Gaps

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently issued a letter to the federal HR community, directing chief human capital officers (CHCOs) to identify how to close the skills gaps in mission-critical jobs.

The letter outlines that CHCOs will work with occupational leaders “to develop a governmentwide strategy to address the root causes for why an occupation has been deemed ‘at risk.’” Additionally, each CHCO will identifying at-risk mission-critical jobs with respect to their own agencies. CHCOs and occupational leaders will also be responsible for developing and submitting a four-year short-term plan, and a 10-year long-term strategy to close these identified skills gaps mission-critical jobs.

Six mission-critical jobs have been identified throughout the government: cybersecurity; auditor; human resources specialist; contract specialist; economist; and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) occupations.

Several years ago, OPM created an interagency group and data program (HRStat) to identify the mission-critical occupations where agencies had trouble recruiting and retaining employees with the proper skills. In her memo, Acting Director Beth Cobert highlighted that agencies also will need to “monitor progress on metrics for achieving desired goals through HRStat quarterly reviews.”

2015 Government Accountability Office report concluded that “mission-critical skills gaps within specific federal agencies as well as across the federal workforce pose a high risk to the nation because they impede the government from cost effectively serving the public and achieving results.” The report also noted that improvement on closing skills gaps has been “mixed” due to the diverse and varied challenges across the government that are “not fully captured” by OPM.

The report stated, “… agency officials have chosen to track metrics that often do not allow for an accurate assessment of progress made toward these goals for closing skills gaps.”

For this new effort, OPM will also provide agencies with guidance on developing strategies and reporting.

Posted in General News

Tags: OPM, Government Accountability Office, Beth Cobert, human resources

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