Federal IT workforce needs training investment, expert says

Technology aids the workforce, but the government's IT security personnel need investments in training and development opportunities to truly thrive.

The search for skilled IT professionals has been an ongoing struggle for the federal government, but there also should be an emphasis on finding ways – and funds -- to train and motivate those already in the workforce, according to one expert.

The framework to build a 21st-century government to better serve citizens pushes agencies to implement digital tools, but missions can't be met successfully without the appropriate investment in development and training for IT professionals, said Julie Anderson, chief operating officer and managing director at Civitas Group

Despite the world of austerity, Anderson said she believes it’s essential to have a portion of the IT budget within the department reserved for training. Imagine you need a new suit and go to a discount store looking for a bargain, Anderson said. You spend $200 on a suit that looks pretty good, but lasts only three months before it starts wearing thin. A better bet is to spend more upfront on a suit that will last for years, Anderson said.

“It’s the same thing with IT investment – government can do it on the cheap and be myopic and just buy a solution whether it’s commercial off-the-shelf or not,” Anderson said. “But they’ll be shortchanging themselves and the effectiveness of the technology unless they fully invest in the people.”

With the evolution of technology, it’s no longer just a cybersecurity problem; it encapsulates all of IT. As IT advances, cyber, cloud and other kind of capabilities and components become more integrated and a natural part of an IT person’s role in terms of their knowledge base and skill set, Anderson said.

 “The main message here is for government to get this right – meaning IT investment that improves the security of the nation’s information, government assets and personnel,” she said. “It’s as much about investing in the people as it is about choosing the right technology solutions and making sure it’s implemented effectively. You can’t have one without the other.”

The Veterans Affair Department, for example, has had a agencywide human capital investment initiative of more than $200 million yearly to train their employees, including IT professionals, nurses and strategic planners, to provide them a better skill set, said Anderson, who formerly served as a VA’s acting assistant secretary for policy and planning.

“It’s a line item in VA’s budget, and it’s a significant investment – it’s actually the biggest human capital investment of any federal agency,” she added.

A February 2012 survey by (ISC)2 showed the federal government is doing well with keeping cybersecurity professionals once they are hired. But getting qualified or highly specialized candidates in the door remains a major challenge, Anderson acknowledged.

“Training and development can help retain talent so it remains in the organization for years to come, but managers also need to make sure employees know they have a career path in government or in an IT track,” she explained.

But to even compete with the private sector, government needs to be clear, supportive and helpful about how employees can contribute to the overall mission and how they can advance their careers, Anderson said. 

 “More plans so people understand what’s possible, support from management, training dollars and development opportunities should help in that war of recruiting,” Anderson said.

In times of shrinking coffers, psychological compensation grows increasingly important, Anderson said. Invited to speak to the winners of the U.S. Cyber Challenge – an initiative to identify and recruit the next-generation cybersecurity professionals -- Anderson urged the high school-aged group to consider a career in government over the private sector, as a way to serve the country.

A public service career isn’t “appealing to everyone but there are folks out there who are drawn to opportunities, jobs and careers like that,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the military or the intelligence world, but it could be working in IT security for an agency that manages millions of data records that contain personal information of beneficiaries of government programs.”

In the end, federal managers hold a key role in ensuring the success of their employees.  Anderson advised that managers create for their direct reports individual development plan so each employee’s goals are known and that the organization and the manager are working to support the employee in meeting their goals.

Particularly for young employees with just a few years’ experience, that type of guidance could prove “extraordinary valuable” early in their career, Anderson noted.

“The higher job satisfaction individuals are going to have, the more engaged they will be in their work, the more likely they will be to work in the government,” she said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.