Government is in the middle of the reskilling revolution. With new technologies, processes and mandates rapidly impacting workforces, agencies must strengthen existing skills while developing new abilities for roles that did not previously exist.
Subsequently, agencies must reskill, upskill and take a data-driven approach to their workforces to acquire the necessary skills for achieving their goals. Addressing these skills gaps will be difficult, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, agencies cannot hire away their skills gaps. Instead, data should determine how upskilling and reskilling can augment agencies’ hiring. Together, reskilling and upskilling can close agencies’ skills gaps without relying solely on hiring.
“We know that the broader a person’s knowledge base, the better that they can solve problems,” said Tony Holmes, Practice Lead for Public Sector Solution Architects at Pluralsight, a tech workforce development company. “It’s important for digital transformation.”
Holmes shared three ways reskilling and upskilling employees virtually can help agencies manage change.
1. Cultivate learning
Encouraging employees’ learning can help agencies avoid stagnation, adapt more easily and embrace potentially revolutionary technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Agencies that continuously assess their workforces’ skill sets can develop strategies for acquiring the abilities they lack. For example, agencies interested in embracing AI can build the skills their teams will need to use it internally, or hire people with those traits externally, depending on organizational needs. “A culture of learning is absolutely vital,” Holmes said. “A lot of people don’t study broadly because they don’t have a breadth of access.”
2. Transform in-house talent
Agencies that embrace reskilling and upskilling can retain and improve their talent more easily, Holmes said. Rather than competing with the private sector, this approach can close skill gaps rapidly and affordably for agencies.
“Great technologists can be grown organically,” he said. “They don’t have to be hired.”
Consider Utah’s Department of Technology Services (DTS). Using Pluralsight’s virtual training tools, DTS can identify skills gaps, tailor training to close them and measure success afterwards. In one case, a DTS receptionist shifted roles after training herself in project management.
3. Predict the unpredictable
Data can assist agencies with improving their skillsets by anticipating future needs and filling gaps accordingly.
Leveraging training platforms like Pluralsight Skills, agencies can find hidden talent within their teams. For example, DTS quickly developed an application to support Utah’s homeless population after identifying a programmer through the platform.
“Ultimately, technology can help with innovation, but the ideas, the architecture and the problem-solving come from our technologists,” Holmes said.
Overall, people are the No. 1 factor for success with digital transformation and innovation, not technology. Thankfully, agile and iterative virtual training can help agencies juggle the hiring, reskilling and upskilling they need for mission success.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Your Guide to Virtual Collaboration and Training in Government.” Download the full guide here.