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Gaps Exist in Federal Reskilling and Upskilling


Thu Jun 02 2022

Gaps Exist in Federal Reskilling and Upskilling

Every two years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on federal programs and operations that are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or that need broad reform. The 2021 report reviews progress and outlines further actions needed in areas on the list. Strategic human capital has held a place on the GAO’s high-risk list since 2001. GAO refocused the risk in 2011 to addressing existing mission-critical skill gaps and using workforce analytics to predict and mitigate future gaps so agencies can carry out their missions.

On March 2, 2021, GAO published the latest update to the high-risk list, pointing out that federal talent management capabilities have regressed over the past few years and highlighting leadership commitment as a key issue. This publication tends to act as a report card on how well federal agencies are implementing or developing programs of interest.


The importance of monitoring your workforce for mission-critical skill gaps is a key step in remaining competitive and relevant in the ever-changing world we live in. Knowing when to reskill or upskill will keep the workforce updated on their work, profession, and mission.

Numerous organizations do not monitor their workforce to ensure they are up to date on the latest technology, skills, and learning events that could improve their work, if not make them more efficient and effective. Key questions to ask include, but are not limited to:

  • How often should I review for skill gaps?

  • How should I perform this review?

  • When will I know that my workforce is at the level of readiness needed?

  • Am I developing them enough?

  • Am I developing them too much?

  • What is the level of proficiency that would allow them to meet the mission?

The US Office of Personnel Management Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2022–2026 is the latest attempt to improve the federal workforce and make the federal government (as the country’s largest employer with four million employees) a model employer for others to follow. Reskilling and upskilling will continue to plague the federal government unless we start to make inroads to better understand the current skill sets we possess and then target the skill sets needed for the future.

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