Getting a new job is a surefire way to learn new skills -- but it's not the only way. The Local Development Assignment Program allows Fort Jackson's Garrison employees to keep their positions, but still gain that knowledge and experience.

They get a new short-term assignment without quitting their day jobs.

LDAP is intended to improve morale and job performance. It aims to "groom future leaders within the Garrison," said Joseph Hewitt, the Garrison workforce development program specialist.

It's part of the Skill Enhancement and Employee Development -- or SEED -- program.

It prepares participants to come back to their primary assignments with the ability to take on more day-to-day responsibilities.

Helping employees gain a higher skill set than their jobs require is the name of the game.
"It's always better to have more skills than the job requires," Hewitt said. Having too few skills can derail a career. Having too many can enhance it.

Employees who volunteer and apply can transition into a new realm of Fort Jackson's Garrison -- either within or outside of their departments -- for a limited time.

It allows them to switch up their responsibilities for 30-90 day periods.

They exchange the hours designated toward their typical full-time jobs to different, temporary ones on post.

Employees perform the role of their assigned position to whatever extent possible.

Though difficult, it has proven beneficial to develop leaders and enhance the installation's workforce.

An orientation class for the next participants was held at the Strom Thurmond Building Oct. 18.
Mary Jo Behney, workforce development program manager, Joseph Hewitt, USAG WFD program specialist, and Mark Cox, deputy garrison commander, welcomed recruits and guided them through the basics of the program.

The three candidates who applied and were selected for the opportunity attended: Danielle Stepherson of Child Youth Services, Tamara Denson of Army Continuing Education Services, and Helen Kerns of the Directorate of Human Resources, Military Personnel Division.

Stepherson will be taking on the assignment of Exceptional Family Member program specialist with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation.

Denson's assignment is DFMWR Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator.

Kerns was matched with the DFMWR Program Support Assistant assignment.

They were fitted with available positions, called for by USAG directorates and agencies, based on an application surrounding their goals and educational and professional backgrounds.

The program was developed at Fort Jackson in 2017 to sustain and develop leaders to "support the Garrison's multi-skilled civilian workforce," Behney said.

It "drives collaboration and innovation," Cox added. Employees gain first-hand skills through experiences they otherwise may never have been exposed to.

"This is a competitive program," Cox said. Supervisors only recommend employees who they view as having the potential to move up to the "next level."

"It's tough" for employee and employer alike, Cox said.

Taking on a new role is challenging. Losing a staff member from a workforce can create hardship, too, especially when that person is a leader in the organization.

The goal is for the assignment to be beneficial to all in the long run.

"All three parties can learn a lot from this experience," Behney said.

The participant learns on-the-job. The home organization gets a more educated employee back at the end of the program, and the host gets a new leader on their team, for a time.

The program is still being built up based on participant feedback.

Any full-time, permanent USAG civilian employee at Fort Jackson can apply, provided he or she has held some form of permanent Army civilian position for at least two years.

Employees of any career field or program, series or grade -- GS-11 or below -- can be considered.

LDAP volunteers can participate as often as once every three years.

They can withdraw at any time, but early withdrawal can affect future participation.