ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –One mark of any good leader is to quickly assess and recognize the needs of their organization. If polled, recruiting and retaining quality personnel would be ranked near the top of anyone’s list. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command’s Software Engineering Center has devised a novel concept to address both at the same time.
It’s called reskilling and upskilling. The program started back in 2019 and was introduced to SEC by the current SEC Director, Jennifer Swanson.
The plan is simple enough and addresses both retention and recruiting by looking inward at the current staff you have, and aligns with the Army’s top priority of People First, building a ready, professional, diverse and integrated force, cultivating an environment where Army Civilians can flourish. SEC has used a variety of ways to promote reskilling and upskilling since bringing the program to the organization. Recently they started a new off-shoot of the program that focuses on shifting resources in order to address skills gaps and provides leadership a new way to stay mission capable.
“Where they would normally recruit for vacancies, our directorates now identify and give some of those opportunities to the current workforce, giving SEC employees the option for a developmental assignment,” Human Capital Strategist Kimberly Bowers said. “Employees in the program leave their home directorate for six months and head to a new location within the center.”
The unique program takes advantage of known commodities and reshapes them into new functional areas. Maybe someone outgrows their position and is looking for change or someone is looking for more responsibility to prepare for management. Utilizing in-house talent provides the reset some employees need when they would otherwise potentially look at other companies.
“Those in the program use a learning tool called ‘Pluralsight’ for online training while also engaging in an intensive on the job training experience,” said Bowers. “They are provided a roadmap for exactly what they need to know in the new position in order to be reskilled in a new role and to execute their duties independently.”
Approximately 385 employees have been reskilled or upskilled since the program’s inception. SEC’s upskilling and reskilling program offers the feeling of recruiting a new employee while also retaining talent that has been nurtured within the organization.
This approach allows SEC to continuously improve skill sets and move quality talent around to maintain readiness. It is also a great retention tool. Ensuring that the workforce is happy in their positions while offering them the training they need to take the next steps in their career is an invaluable benefit.