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What I Learned at the 2015 Government Workforce Conference

Thursday, October 1, 2015
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I had the privilege to attend the Government Workforce: Learning Innovations conference on September 10, 2015. The conference brought together federal employees, as well as like-minded individuals from other sectors, who are committed and passionate about innovating government by improving training methods, making processes more efficient, and using data meaningfully.

Panels of leaders and experts from various agencies shared their challenges and tested solutions with attendees. The conference began with a keynote speech from Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, who shared how the SSA breaks down traditional barriers and skillfully invests in its employees, making SSA a thriving and successful agency.

The conference was tracked into four themes:

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  • Data Analytics
  • Performance Management
  • Everything Learning
  • Getting Results.

I chose to participate in the Everything Learning track, and found the conference to be well-organized and chock-full of useful information. A favorite panel from this track of sessions was “Problem Solving in Three Dimensions: Training for the Future.” The dialogue between the panel and audience dug deep into the challenge of determining the effectiveness of online learning and described new tools that different agencies have implemented to improve the training process.
Melissa Starinsky, Director of the Federal Acquisition Institute at the GSA, highlighted how her agency is using smartphones to further training. For instance, learners use their phones to answer training questions at the end of a training session, allowing the trainer to gauge the group’s comprehension—and even the trainer’s own effectiveness—in real time. This is just one example of ways agency leaders are continually working to surmount the challenges of 21st century training and ensure their employees have the knowledge to produce the greatest results possible.

Overall, the conference’s keynote speakers and breakout sessions gave employees from all levels of government and across agencies the knowledge and tools to transform their agencies learning and development options by using many resources already available to them. Moreover, the conference had an exciting environment of innovation. I and my fellow attendees were excited to be present to help continue the conversation of how government can—and does—compete in our data-driven, results-oriented society.

Editor's Note: Shayna Mazel attended the conference with thanks to the Federal Manager’s partnership with YGL.

About the Author
Shayna Mazel is a GOLD fellow for Young Government Leaders (YGL) National Board and a Masters of Public Policy student at the University of Maryland. 
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