DOD aims to seed workforce

A program to give students DOD acquisition training is designed to fill a void in the future procurement workforce

"Implementation of the Acquisition Workforce 2005 Task Force Recommendations"

Anticipating a shortage of procurement personnel, Defense Department officials hope a program that will give college students 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. The program seeks to reach those candidates early in their college tenure and steer them toward a career in these fields, 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 given routine jobs such as filing, she added.

Instead, "we want to think of them as potential hires," she said of the student interns. 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 already is looking to expand SEED to include workers in the engineering and information technology sectors, where there are even greater shortages, Richard said.

The pilot program will start with about 30 participants. And the SEED program will be run by all 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.

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