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At OPM, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to provide meaningful training opportunities for the Federal workforce. When we decided to offer our first-ever Virtual HR Training Conference, the idea was to give employees a great opportunity for learning that was also affordable in today’s tight budgets.
I’m happy to report that this first virtual conference exceeded even my high expectations. More than 2,400 employees, representing 75 Federal agencies across the country, participated in the two-day event, co-sponsored by OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council in April.
And I’m not the only one who thinks the conference hit the mark.
“By all accounts, the OPM Virtual HR Conference was a smashing success!” said Gary Musicante, Director of Workplace Planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On our conference evaluation form, an employee with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs said, “Why haven’t we done this sooner?”
We virtually transported nearly 60 experts to the computers and laptops of conference participants, taking advantage of the latest multimedia tools – videos and virtual panels and breakouts chats. That made our conference an unprecedented learning opportunity for the Federal HR community.
It cost only $95 for an individual to attend, demonstrating that high-quality employee training doesn’t have to be expensive or require travel. The government saved an estimated $4 million compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar conference for a like number of employees. And, employees who otherwise would have been denied a conference opportunity because of the travel costs were able to benefit.
As an added bonus, conference participants have access to the recorded sessions they missed – or just want to see again – for a full year.
This conference fulfills one of the key goals of OPM’s human capital management strategy – REDI. REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion. Participants had the chance to immerse themselves in a variety of HR strategies and to share agency success stories on topics such as performance management, leave, work-life flexibilities, engagement, diversity, and recruitment.
An exciting element of the conference was bringing together program leaders and human capital experts. Thirty-nine percent of attendees were not HR professionals. Such partnerships are critical to our ability to solve management challenges across government.
We know effective training saves time and money. That’s why OPM and the CHCO Council are dedicated to pursuing state-of-the-art, affordable learning experiences for all Federal employees.
I’m proud of OPM’s HR Solutions team for the hard work they put into making the 2015 HR Virtual Conference such a success. Stay tuned. This year’s conference was just the first. There are more exciting learning opportunities to come.
We know from OPM’s research that Federal employees are well educated and many hold multiple college and university degrees. They love to learn and often don’t consider their educations complete just because they work for the Federal Government. That is why I am excited to announce a new educational partnership for our workforce.
Beginning this summer, an OPM partnership with Champlain College will help Federal employees, their spouses, and legal adult family members pursue online post-secondary education in such high demand fields as business, health care, and technology.
We know programs like this one work. One year ago, we initiated a partnership with University of Maryland University College. UMUC’s results are encouraging. More than 1,200 Federal employees enrolled in UMUC programs, including nearly 100 spouses and dependents. Together, they have saved nearly $765,000 in tuition. And we know that Federal employees across the country are taking interest. UMUC enrolled students from 42 states and the District of Columbia and from more than 100 Federal agencies.
Our work with UMUC and our new partnership with Champlain College are win-wins. The additional knowledge and skills that Federal workers get through these courses will help them advance their careers while also making them more engaged on the job and more skillful in fulfilling their agencies’ missions.
Champlain College will give up to a 70 percent discount on the courses. The amount of the discount will vary depending on the exact nature of, and the number of, courses they choose to take. In addition to the discount, Federal employees will be able to apply for financial aid and perhaps accrue little or no debt.
Our collaboration with Champlain College will increase all Federal employees’ access to high-quality and affordable educational resources. Champlain’s online courses will allow Federal employees to enroll no matter where they live, and to complete certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in such fields as cyber security, digital forensics, health care administration, and human resources management.
Employees can immediately begin submitting their applications for the summer term.
Lifelong learning is a staple of today’s Federal workforce, and our alliance with Champlain College pushes us further along that path. I am incredibly proud of the work Federal employees do each and every day, and the time and energy they invest in their jobs. Through our partnership with Champlain, we will help solidify the foundation of that investment. And stay tuned; there are even more opportunities like this to come.
As we take a deep dive into the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, I am proud to see the data proves that our talented workforce is always striving to get better. When some of our innovative analysts in the Office of Planning and Policy Analysis examined education attainment patterns evident in the results, they found that a large proportion of our employees take advantage of additional training and education opportunities in a quest to better serve the American people.
Their findings are summarized in a report, Making the Grade: The Story of an Increasingly Well-Educated Federal Workforce, which is now available on opm.gov.
When looking at the educational progress that Federal employees have made in the past decade, we see that 39 percent have increased their education levels. When looking solely at those who entered Federal service with only a high school degree, we find that a remarkably large share --86 percent--increased their education by earning anything from a certificate in a skill area to a college degree.
The Federal government can help employees advance their education in a number of ways -- from tuition discounts, like the one OPM initiated with the University of Maryland University College this year, to granting CHCOs the authority to help employees pay some of their educational costs. It’s a win-win investment: Employees develop critical skills that the government needs. And, as employees expand their roles and responsibilities, they are more likely to feel vested in their organizations and motivated to continue their service to the American people.
OPM’s analysts found that as employees further their education, their odds of moving into the managerial ranks and increasing their salaries also increase significantly.
Supervisors and employees often work together to make new educational opportunities possible. That’s a special dynamic in our workforce: Employees feel supported to develop their skills and managers know that their agencies will have committed and more highly skilled workers.
We want agencies to have the best tools available to make these collaborations possible. Through HR University, Federal HR professionals and managers have one-stop shopping for tools and resources available government-wide. We are planning to expand upon this successful model of employee training to other government professions with GovU.
So take a few moments to read OPM’s new report on education in the Federal workforce. You never know where your next spark of inspiration will come from!
HR University has a new look. OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council just unveiled a refurbished HRU website that is designed to better serve human resources professionals and the Federal workforce. As a result of the hard work of our great teams here at OPM and on the CHCO Council -- and with the help of feedback we’ve gotten from HRU students -- HRU.gov is now more accessible and easier to navigate. We hope the impressive new features help you with your training needs. On the new HRU.gov you will find:
The CHCO Council launched HRU in 2011 to address the growing need to train and develop the 21st Century Federal workforce. Since its launch, it has taken off and now offers 130 courses as well as many tools and resources to more than 50,000 registered users across government. Through its innovative method of leveraging existing resources throughout government, HRU has helped train thousands of employees and saved the government more than $100 million.
I invite you to learn more about HRU and what it has to offer during a live Twitter chat on July 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT. CHCO Council Executive Director Justin Johnson will be ready to answer your questions using hashtag #NewHRU. I hope you can join him. But even if you can’t participate in the chat, you might want to check out HRU.gov. Let us know what you think. We hope you find it to be a useful and accessible portal to get the training you need.
Today General Services Administration Administrator Dan Tangherlini and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seals an important partnership that will give agencies a more efficient, more reliable, and more effective way to get the best available training and human capital resources to Federal employees.
Under this agreement, we are merging the breadth of GSA’s acquisition capabilities, tools and strategic sourcing experience with OPM’s expertise in human capital and training to form a more powerful Government solution. Our effort also is aligned with the President’s Management Agenda because it will achieve government-wide savings and efficiencies through Federal strategic sourcing. Through this effort, we will support Federal employees as they continue to provide excellent service to the American people.
This partnership acknowledges the changing Federal landscape. It recognizes OPM’s strategic goals, the current budgetary realities across government and the need to better support the mission of the Federal agencies that OPM serves.
One of my highest priorities as OPM Director is to support agencies in meeting their most challenging human capital needs, including the training and development of our Federal workforce. This partnership will help empower agencies to better accomplish that goal.
Since one of the roles of OPM is to assist the Federal agencies to develop their federal training and career development opportunities, this new partnership is just one way we are going to make that process more efficient, effective, and reliable for agencies. Federal employees must see a clear career path, and we must make sure agencies are providing training and mentoring. We must make sure that from resume to retirement, Federal employees have the processes in place to support their career development.
Through this agreement, OPM will be able to more effectively get the tools they need to fulfill their training and human capital needs. And ensuring that our workforce has what it needs to succeed is one of my highest priorities.
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