DOD program readies future grads

"Implementation of the Acquisition Workforce 2005 Task Force Recommendations"

Defense Department officials anticipate a shortage of procurement personnel in the near future, and they hope that a program that will give college graduates DOD acquisition training will help fill the void.

The Student Education, Employment and Development (SEED) program targets college students with an interest in DOD acquisition, technology and logistics jobs and steers them toward a career in these fields. The program seeks to reach those candidates early in their college tenure, said Marcia Richard, a DOD program analyst and liaison to the Defense Acquisition University.

The SEED program is one of 31 recommendations published in a March report by DOD's Acquisition Workforce 2005 Task Force.

"SEED will create a cadre of college graduates who will be educated, trained and ready to fill acquisition, technology and logistics positions throughout the DOD acquisition, technology and logistics community," according to the report.

"We have an aging workforce crisis," Richard said, and the SEED program is part of an effort to get new employees into the DOD acquisition workforce. Traditionally, cooperative education candidates have been relegated to menial jobs such as filing, she added.

Instead, "we want to think of [student interns] as potential hires," she said. The SEED program will enable DOD to give participating students more of a sense of what the jobs are like and, potentially, train them so they can join DOD.

Officials will test the waters with a pilot program this fall, but the Air Force is already looking to expand SEED to include engineering and information technology workers, where there is an even greater shortage of people, Richard said.

The pilot program will start off with about 30 participants. And the SEED program will be run by the military services. The Air Force has shown the most interest in the program so far, Richard said, but she hopes other services will join.

DOD officials hope that the SEED program will also help influence course development at colleges and universities.

Then, once students complete designated courses and gain work experience through the SEED program, they will be eligible to obtain certification in their chosen area. "Upon graduation, students [who] complete the program will be highly competitive when applying for acquisition, technology and logistics positions," the report states.

John Caporal, acting director of the Air Force contracting resources and analysis division, said officials are confident that the program will attract good prospective employees.

"We feel that if we can get a relationship going early on, it can improve our chances of bringing them onboard," Caporal said.

Some students may decide not to stay with government, he said, but they will still have made a contribution to the Air Force through their work efforts.

Richard is also talking with Navy officials about conducting a SEED pilot program.

***

Sowing 'SEED'

The Defense Department's Student, Education, Employment and Development (SEED) program is different from other internship programs, according to DOD officials, because it:

* Is designed specifically for students in the acquisition, technology and logistics fields.

* Will influence college and university curricula through the sharing and exchange of course materials.

* Will encourage colleges and universities to engage in the Defense Acquisition University's course equivalency process.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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