Knowledge readiness

In an ever-changing environment that demands constant training upgrades and personnel shifts, agencies are beginning to look for ways to measure how much their workers already know and what they need to work more effectively.

Agency officials are increasingly reaching beyond traditional online learning courses and taking stock of the skills of their workforce. The concept, known as knowledge readiness, allows agency officials to have a complete snapshot of the workforce and rapidly deploy people or training, depending on the situation.

"Once you are able to identify that everyone is getting the information they need, you can now do more proactive things, [such as determining] the better

way to deploy people based on their skills," said Paul Sparta, chief executive officer of Plateau Systems Ltd., which develops learning management systems for knowledge readiness. "It

really provides a much better real-time capability to get manpower assessment. The broader human capital management depends on having the ability to do these types of knowledge readiness capabilities."

About 20 percent of agencies are beginning to adopt this concept. The first step, Sparta said, is the implementation of an e-learning program managed by a learning management system. Once the content for training personnel is under one roof, officials can survey the workforce's current skills and training needs. That information is then housed in a database and matched to available courses.

Although it can sound like trying to "boil the ocean," Sparta said, agencies can determine what areas would need efficient deployment of personnel or training. For example, employees at the Tricare Military Health System are required to have training on the privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Tricare's privacy officer, Sam Jenkins, said his organization uses Plateau Systems Ltd.'s learning management system to keep

up-to-date on this training.

Jenkins said the system allows him to manage the training for the 131,000 members of the military health system, including many who are on active military duty and transfer frequently. The tool allows him to develop a single training method for the entire organization and manage it in one place.

"By doing that, I can ensure any member of the workforce can go into any facility and the training official can access their training records and determine if they have had the appropriate training," he said.

In addition to people moving around, elements of the training often change and workers need to refresh their skills, Jenkins said. "That to me is knowledge readiness," he said. "It's available to you in a [learning management system] that can provide that training in a just-in-time manner, and I think that's very important."

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Keeping up with tax laws

Training for many employees at the Internal Revenue Service involves courses about tax law, which can change several times a year, according to Linda McCuller, director of learning and education in the IRS' Human Capital Office.

In addition, the IRS is hiring a new crop of revenue agents that need detailed training plans and specialized skills. As a result, the idea of knowledge readiness becomes crucial for the organization to measure what people know and what they need to know, she said.

"The learning management system allows you to manage the history, all the activity an employee has done as well as the things they need to do," McCuller said.

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