Workforce Development – beyond Training and Education

  • Published
  • By Tom Sizemore
  • AEDC Personnel Directorate

AEDC Commander Col. Jeffrey Geraghty’s AEDC Strategy 2020 established three priorities: Pursue Mission Excellence, Invest in our People, and Improve and Sustain the Complex. The staff of the Personnel Division take the words “Invest in our People” as a personal commitment.

The human resource cycle begins with establishing manpower requirements, hiring personnel to fulfill the requirements, continuous development of the personnel hired and then ensuring the sustainment of their welfare to include benefits, entitlements, pay, performance feedback/evaluation, etc. The AEDC/DP staff is committed to the success and well-being of each person and the level of service we can provide to assist the organizations in taking care of people.

Training and Education development begins at AEDC the moment a new hire enters on duty. In May of 2019, the DP Staff launched the AFMC Civilian Acculturation Program at Arnold AFB with the goal to decrease onboarding time, while establishing consistency in training for civilian new hires.

During the first four days new hires are indoctrinated to Air Force customs, heritage and core competencies by engaging in mandatory Newcomer’s Orientation (NEO) and Total Force Awareness Training courses. This training provides new hires a better understanding of their roles within the Air Force and how they contribute to mission success. During NEO training new hires also learn about additional mandatory training requirements specific to each job to include Acquisition Training, Continuous Learning Points and Supervisory/Leadership training, etc. Mandatory refresher training is then required on periodic basis. Make no mistake; the training has value and purpose. For new hires in particular, it demonstrates the Air Force’s expectation for employees to participate in ongoing training as a crucial part of professional career development.

AEDC maintains a robust Training and Education program, well above the AF mandates. We have successfully brought the Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program I and II to Arnold AFB for the past several years. Leadership has made a commitment to the long-term, full/part time educational program that has benefitted many within our workforce. We have successfully acquired Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act funding on an annual basis to support our functional acquisition training requirements.

Organizations have invested in employee development and funded educational classes, in-residence and on-line training courses, conferences, workshops, symposiums, Professional Military Education (PME), etc., for employees within their units. Supervisors, with employee input, utilize the AFMC mandated Individual Development Plan to establish, track and reach both short and long-term goals. AEDC implemented a local mentorship program that has proven particularly beneficial to new employees.

Through continual development initiatives, we enable our workforce with the tools and skills to learn and integrate new technologies, systems and processes as well as the capability to adapt to constant change within our functional areas.

Investing in the development of our people is an important aspect of creating an engaged workforce. Training and education are only components of Workforce Development. Developing our workforce is a much broader, long-term, continuous commitment with a goal of building workforce potential, establishing competencies necessary for challenging assignments and empowering people to deal with those challenges. This begins with supervisors focusing on developing the skills and knowledge of their workforce. Training alone may not be enough to align employee development goals with organizational goals. Workforce development is a responsibility we all share and open communication is key. It is important that employees effectively communicate to their supervisors what professional goals they want to attain as that will be the driving factor in creating clear and concise career paths through education, training and challenging work experiences.

There are many tangible benefits associated with strong workforce development initiatives to include; preparing employees with the skills and knowledge for specific jobs, higher employee engagement, reducing turnover, etc. Developing our workforce is continuous; it takes work, time and financial investments. AEDC Leadership is supportive and committed to workforce development initiatives. Investing in our people will ensure AEDCs mission is successful now and it paves the way to meet future mission requirements for meeting the National Defense Strategy.