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June 2011
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OPM Makes Diversity a Top Priority

T+D JUNE 11 // Intelligence //

OPM Makes Diversity a Top Priority

By Ann Pace

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management makes new strides to foster diversity and inclusion within the federal workforce.

For decades, programs to increase workplace diversity have been works-in-progress for most corporations in the United States. The public sector also has ramped up its efforts on this front, as the Office of Personnel Management develops new initiatives to grow a diverse and inclusive federal workforce.

Supported by President Obama’s July 2010 executive order calling for an additional 100,000 individuals with disabilities to be employed by the federal government within the next five years, OPM’s 2010-2015 strategic plan makes promoting diversity and inclusion in the federal workplace a top priority. Specific goals include providing employee training aimed at creating and maintaining a culture where diversity is valued and promoted, and attracting diverse talent through targeted recruitment and retention efforts.

According to OPM, the number of minorities at the senior pay levels increased by 9.4 percent within the past year—from 3,709 in 2009 to 4,059 in 2010. Women held 31.2 percent of senior-level positions, and the proportion of women and minorities in GS grades 13 through 15 increased by 7.9 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.

During the past two years, OPM Director John Berry has taken several practical steps to help drive these diversity changes. He reversed a previous policy that did not allow federal agencies to collect demographic data from employment applicants. According to OPM, “The absence of such data has significantly hampered agencies’ ability to analyze whether they are effectively recruiting Americans of diverse backgrounds and to identify, and, where possible, eliminate barriers that deny equal access to employment opportunities.”

Berry also created a Hispanic Council on Federal Employment (established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972), launched in February 2011. This council advises Berry on eradicating barriers to the employment and promotion of Hispanic Americans.

In addition to these recent efforts, OPM has three offices designed to “implement innovative solutions to build and sustain a workforce that includes top talent from every part of America.” According to OPM, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is developing a database of individuals with disabilities who are qualified for specified jobs, and The Executive Resources and Employee Development Office is assisting agencies as they increase diversity and talent in Senior Executive Service (SES) applicant pools.

The Student Programs Office is establishing a comprehensive structure to help the federal government become more competitive in recruiting and hiring talented students who are in school or who have recently received a degree.

OPM is also actively developing leaders within the federal government. “During FY 2010, OPM participated in several SES diversity roundtable discussions with agency representatives and other stakeholders to collect best practices in the area of SES recruitment and hiring, and OPM is currently preparing these best practices to share with federal agencies,” the organization reports.

Additionally, OPM and the Office of Management and Budget are leading the President’s Management Council Initiative on SES Improvements, which includes a focus on diversity management. One strategy is to design a governmentwide leadership development and SES onboarding program with leadership development curriculum across agencies, including executive management and inclusion training.

T+D JUNE 11 // MOBILE LEARNING//

Intelligence2

At Last: M-Learning Going Mainstream

By Ann Pace

The workforce’s appeal for m-learning has surged from ardent interest to a resounding demand within three years. And learners, not the learning department, are driving this demand.

According to Bersin & Associate’s March 2011 report, “m-Learning: Mobile Learning Is Finally Going Mainstream—And It Is Bigger Than You Might Think,” in 2009, 17 percent of the workforce used mobile learning, compared to 14 percent in 2008 and 9 percent in 2007. While the growth has been positive, it is slower and less transformational than predicted by Bersin’s 2007 study, “m-Learning: The Latest Trends, Developments and Real-World Applications.”

“We were surprised at the slower pace of adoption,” says Janet Clarey, senior analyst for Bersin & Associates. “However, after nearly 10 years of predicting that m-learning will go mainstream, we’re finally seeing enough momentum now that it really is going mainstream, and it’s driven by the consumer market.”

A July 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that 55 percent of U.S. mobile web users go online from their handheld devices on a daily basis, compared to 24 percent of mobile Internet users from the previous year. Because of the boom in the number and variety of portable devices, platforms, and mobile applications, consumers’ general interest has evolved into true demand.

Early adopters of m-learning represent all levels of the market, from small to large businesses, and primarily the technology, business services, and healthcare industries. The developing world is leading the way in mobile adoption: Of the 1.9 billion global mobile cellular subscriptions added between 2006 and 2009, more than 1.6 billion of them were from developing countries, compared to fewer than 300 million from developed nations.

The study notes that “most m-learning has taken the form of short ‘nuggets’ of learning content, offered on-demand for performance support purposes. However, there is widespread interest in more informal and collaborative uses.”

“As informal learning grows, so does m-learning,” Clarey says. “It is following the evolution of enterprise learning overall.”

Kelley Executive Partners, the executive education program at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, uses an alternate reality game (ARG) to create an engaging and customized learning experience for its clients. Coca-Cola recently sent 16 executives from its North African division to Kelley in an effort to better market to its Millennial consumers who are immersed in Web 2.0 technologies. The participants used blogs, YouTube, mobile GPS devices, and smartphones to complete the ARG activities. The experience helped the team to better understand how Millennials share information and to determine targeted marketing strategies—and it was fun.

As for the future, it can only get bigger from here. “I think we’ll see positive growth continue in the next three years,” Clarey predicts. “I also expect that soon we won’t see the ‘m’ in m-learning. It’s difficult to separate training and technology—they’re almost intertwined. It seems odd to be tethered to a desk or classroom anymore.”

T+D JUNE 11 // international //

Intelligence4

Chinese Women Flood the Global Talent Ranks

By Ann Pace

In the country that boasts the fastest growing global economy, female talent may be its greatest untapped asset.

For multinational companies staking a claim in China’s flourishing economy, securing qualified talent is an ongoing battle. Fortunately, these organizations need look no further than the ranks of ambitious, educated Chinese women, according to New York–based think tank Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP).

CWLP’s recent report, “The Battle for Female Talent in China,” presents a deeper analysis of the China-specific findings from its June 2010 study, “The Battle for Female Talent in Emerging Markets.” This preliminary report captured data from several emerging markets—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—and included an ancillary study on the United Arab Emirates.

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According to the report, nearly 3 million female university graduates enter the Chinese workforce each year. Of the total Graduate Management Admission Test applicants (a number that has more than tripled during the past five years), 40 percent are male, and 60 percent are female. Considering that China is the world’s second largest economy, is the largest exporter, and holds the largest labor force, the Chinese female talent pool is primed for success.

The study shows that 76 percent of survey respondents reported aspiring to a top job, compared to 52 percent of their U.S. counterparts. “Not only are women in emerging markets ahead of women in the West, but the issues they encounter are very different,” says Ripa Rashid, executive vice president at CWLP. Understanding these unique issues will be important for both Western and Chinese companies attempting to attract and retain this talent segment.

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Rashid explains that the Communist legacy has created a different equation of work and life for women in China by bringing them fully into the labor force. The negative social stigma often attached to a working Western woman who places her child in daycare simply does not exist in China. Under Communism, government-sponsored healthcare was available and socially acceptable. Today, women continue to take advantage of a variety of childcare options, which, as a result of China’s “one child” policy, often include four grandparents.

While childcare is not a major consideration for professional Chinese women, the study shows that eldercare is an increasing concern. Nearly a third of Chinese women surveyed do not have children, but 95 percent have eldercare responsibilities, and 58 percent provide financially for their parents. Additionally, 88 percent of Chinese women—the highest number across the top emerging markets—experience “daughterly guilt” when balancing work and eldercare obligations.

“There’s a great reliance on your adult children for your wherewithal when you’re retired,” Rashid says. “Also, culturally, there’s a great reluctance to put your parents in nursing homes.”

Women in China are eager for professional development opportunities, with 80 percent viewing international assignments as critical to their career advancement. However, 75 percent report family and societal disapproval of their traveling alone. Rashid suggests that learning professionals craft unique mobility programs in light of these cultural implications: For example, offer international assignments early in their careers when Chinese women have fewer caregiver responsibilities, or pay to bring their elders on short-term assignments, if necessary.

T+D JUNE 11 // FAST FACT //

Intelligence3

Instructional Design Volunteers Needed

In 2010, e-Learning for Kids, a global not-for-profit foundation, reached more than 2.3 million underserved children in 190 countries with its free courseware. The foundation is dedicated to providing fun and free learning over the Internet for children ages five through 12, with 35 percent being from the United States. The foundation’s vision is to be the source for technology-based childhood learning from anywhere in the world and without charge.

A volunteer staff of education specialists, e-learning experts, and business professionals around the world work together to create quality online courseware in math, science, language arts, computer skills, English as a second language, and health and life skills.

e-Learning for Kids is launching a new project that will offer a complete K-6 math curriculum. The foundation’s goal is to develop 150 e-lessons in 2011. Interested in helping? The foundation is now looking for

  • skilled instructional designers who can develop two or more storyboards
  • those who have time to volunteer over a three-month period.

If you are interested and available, send an email to jderies@e-learningforkids.org. You will be provided a storyboard template (with manual) and a subject matter expertise package (with math examples) so you can begin. To learn more about the foundation and get involved, visit www.e-learningforkids.org.

T+D JUNE 11 // CAREERS //

Intelligence5

Hiring Exceeds Projections for Seventh Consecutive Quarter

By Ann Pace

For U.S. workers on the job hunt, the outlook is bright.

With the unemployment rate dropping below 9 percent for the first time in two years, 2011 looks to be a year of ongoing economic recovery. According to CareerBuilder and USA TODAY ’s Q2 2011 Job Forecast, the hiring outlook is stronger today than it’s been in three years.

Twenty-eight percent of employers hired full-time permanent employees in the first quarter of this year, compared to 23 percent at this time last year, making it the seventh consecutive quarter in which actual hiring exceeded projections.

“While employers are keeping a close eye on world events, their confidence levels in regard to recruitment have remained intact,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Job listings on CareerBuilder are up across all categories, from healthcare and technology to manufacturing.”

While this outlook is positive for job seekers, it may signal the need for more aggressive retention strategies. Thirty-one percent of employers express concern that top performers will look for employment opportunities outside of their organizations as the economy improves, and 14 percent report that top talent left their organizations in the initial months of 2011.

Hiring is anticipated to increase most in the Western United States, with 33 percent of managers hiring additional full-time staff, compared to 28 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest, and 24 percent in the South.

“The West is home to many of the country’s technology organizations, and although this industry took a hit during the recession, technology has been a large driver of job growth due to the pressure to innovate and create new revenue streams,” notes Allison Nawoj, corporate communications manager at CareerBuilder. “Jobs in clean tech manufacturing, biotech, digital media, and Internet businesses are up across the West Coast.”

The U.S. workforce is breathing a sigh of relief as it feels the effects of the economy’s gradual healing. The report notes that 39 percent of employers anticipate no change in salary levels in the second quarter of 2011 (compared to the same time period in 2010). Thirty-eight percent expect an increase of 3 percent or less, and 15 percent expect an increase between 4 and 10 percent.

“The survey points to continued, measured gains over the next three months,” Ferguson adds. “As the nation moves toward greater financial stability, more employers are investing in talent for the long-term.”

The online survey was conducted between February 21 and March 10 among 2,878 U.S. hiring managers and 5,671 full-time, not self-employed, and nongovernment adult workers.

T+D JUNE 11 // INFOGRAPH //

U.S. Ranked Number 5 in Technology Use

For the second year in a row, the United States came in fifth place (out of 138 countries) for its use of communications technology and computers, behind Sweden, Singapore, Finland, and Switzerland, according to an annual study by the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization. The 2010 ranking is based on 71 economic and social factors, including new patents, mobile phone subscriptions, and availability of venture capital. The forum's Networked Readiness Index "measures the degree to which developed and developing countries across the world leverage information and communication technologies for enhanced competitiveness."

About the Author
Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.
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