OPM Targets Skills Gaps in Mission Critical Occupations
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A recent memo from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reinforces the need to continue work on closing skills gaps within several government-wide, high-risk, mission critical occupations: economist, HR specialist, auditor, acquisition, cybersecurity, and the STEM functional area. 

Released by OPM Acting Director Beth F. Cobert, the memo explains that OPM will work in partnership with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council on this effort. A leader representing each of those occupations will partner with a CHCO to develop a government-wide strategy for that occupation. In addition to the government-wide focus areas, each agency has identified its own medium-risk and high-risk occupations that they will address. 

According to the memo, agencies will have specific criteria for monitoring and reporting these efforts. For starters, each agency will appoint a leader responsible for coordinating skills gap closure activities. After identifying root causes for medium- and high-risk mission critical occupations, agency leads will develop a short-term (four-year) and a long-term (10-year) strategy. Next, agency leads will use each strategy to build an action plan, detailed with specific targets and outcome-oriented metrics. 


The agency will monitor progress on these metrics through HRStat quarterly reviews. In addition, agencies will be required to report on skills gap closure activities and milestones on a quarterly basis to the CHCO Council Executive Steering Committee. Agencies also will need to report annually on government-wide and agency-specific mission critical occupations through time-to-hire charts and resource charts.  

“OPM will provide guidance and tools on conducting root cause analysis, developing an action plan, setting targets, and developing outcome-oriented metrics. Additionally, OPM will provide ongoing support in helping agencies achieve their skills gap closure objectives,” the memo says.


About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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