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Don’t Sacrifice Training in Tight Budget Times

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide “How to Effectively Communicate Government Workforce Reforms.” In it, we provide an overview of key workforce reforms happening at all levels of government. Download the full guide here.

When advocating for training resources, former DHS Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) Jeffrey Neal suggested the first thing employees and managers do is make the argument that cutting training is short-sighted and bad for business.

Neal’s advice: Don’t be bashful about saying to the people who are making those decisions that their employees might think they are not telling the truth if they say people are the most important resource and the first thing they cut is people.

Many employers have recognized that investing in employee development can result in many organizational benefits, including boosts to employee morale and improved efficiency and productivity.

How to Take Advantage of Free Training

Maybe the training and professional development budget dried up. Maybe you weren’t asked to work on that new and exciting project. Maybe no one knows your hidden skills. If so, here are some options to consider:

  • If you’re looking for free professional development, the federal Open Opportunities Program may be the right fit for you. The governmentwide program caters to feds looking for growth opportunities and managers looking for their help. Positions range from marketing projects and event planning to data visualization and blogging.
  • Another option is free training through iTunes U. Through iTunes U, anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can access free educational content, including public courses and collections from leading schools, universities, museums and cultural institutions.
  • GovLoop offers a variety of free, in-person and online trainings for public-sector employees. Among those offerings are interactive courses offered through GovLoop Academy. The self-paced courses range from 10 minutes to an hour. Most are 30 minutes, and topics include “Introduction to the Internet of Things,” “The Human-Centered Approach” and “Getting the Most of Your Data Analytics.”

Tips for Creating Internal Training Opportunities

  • Provide on-the-job training. Be deliberate about the assignments you give employees, and make certain that you tell them those long-term projects are training opportunities. The work should be designed to fill in their skills gaps.
  • Develop formal mentorship and coaching opportunities. While mentoring focuses on giving helpful advice, coaching is more action-focused. For example, coaching questions may focus on why you feel you don’t have a good relationship with your boss, rather than telling you how to respond to your boss.
  • Don’t wait until the budget is reduced. Mission support staff — including those in HR, procurement and finance — are usually hit the hardest when training budgets are cut. Instead, invest your time in creating programs for those employees to get more experience. This doesn’t have to be formal training.

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