FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Six Department of the Army Civilians with U.S. Army Human Resources Command (HRC) recently began a year-long professional development program intended to vastly improve the command's civilian talent management efforts.

With civilian employees comprising more than 70 percent of its workforce, HRC created the Gemstone Program in late 2018 after Maj. Gen. Jason T. Evans, HRC's commanding general, designated "Civilian Workforce Development" as a command priority.

Gemstone is a blended development program consisting of a combination of briefings, senior leader shadowing experiences, brown bag luncheons, seminars, classroom instruction, distance/distributed learning, professional readings, and other applicable developmental opportunities.

Available to all HRC government employees, Gemstone consists of three levels -- Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond -- with each level corresponding to grades GS 04 - GS 10, GS 11-13 and GS 14-15. The intent is to develop potential candidates for Senior Executive Service, the Senior Enterprise Talent Management (SETM), and the Enterprise Talent Management (ETM) programs, further advancing talent in the next generation of senior Army Civilian leaders.

"The ideal candidate for the Gemstone program is concerned about achieving their professional goals, dedicated to helping the organization meet or exceed its goals. Demonstrating the ability to connect their daily duties to the larger mission, with a commitment to a lifetime of professional and personal growth," said Jamie K. Worthy, Sr., HRC command civilian workforce development officer and Gemstone Program manager.

Internal to HRC employees, Gemstone is conducted during the employee's normal civilian duty hours, meeting monthly for developmental events, and does not require any TDY travel for training other than for Civilian Education System (CES) requirements.

"I saw the Gemstone Program as an opportunity for professional development that aligned with my work / life balance. Most professional development courses require one to go TDY; however, the Gemstone Program is conducted at HRC or other locations on Fort Knox. With Gemstone, I can have the growth experience and fulfill my obligations at home," said Suzanne Brummet, a human resource specialist enrolled in the program Emerald level.

Participants will learn to strengthen their leadership abilities and other skills through interpersonal skills; oral communication; written communication; creativity and innovation; strategic thinking; conflict management; leveraging diversity; team building; decisiveness; problem solving; partnering; and influencing/negotiating, and other transformations stimulating commitment to personal and professional development.

HRC will use shadowing opportunities and short-term job assignments (up to 120 days) to provide experiential development and broadening opportunities. Participants will be assigned to at least one developmental assignment within the command working in a different organization, division, function, or doing substantially different work than in position of record. This helps participants get out of their comfort zone, exposing them to more complex environments and different leadership experiences.

To be eligible for Gemstone, HRC employees must be in a permanent Army Civilian appointment, unless otherwise directed by statute, have completed grade- and position-appropriate Civilian Education System (CES) and Foundation Course (if applicable), have served at least one year at full performance level in his/her occupation and have a performance rating of 3-Fully Successful or higher on the most recent performance appraisal.

The application window for the next cohort of Gemstone candidates is July 1 - September 1, 2019. The class begins in January 2020.