Though the coronavirus has caused unexpected obstacles and modifications to the daily work routine of Army personnel, Army missions, specifically the training and professional development of its civilian workforce, continue no matter what, says one senior workforce analyst.
Harold De Berry, Civilian Workforce Development Division, Space and Missile Defense Command, said workforce training and development have remained vital during the pandemic and modified training delivery methods will likely continue to be used extensively long term.
“The Army has invested significant resources to ensure training education and leader development remain available virtually,” De Berry said. “It is likely to have a prolonged and profound impact on future training delivery methods especially considering the cost associated with institutional domain training under constrained Army training resources.”
De Berry said that pre-pandemic existing virtual training has helped keep training moving now that Army personnel are maximizing teleworking and social distancing.
“Many years before the pandemic, the Army’s self-development training domain was structured to facilitate uninterrupted access to planned and goal-orientated learning,” De Berry said. “Now additional training resources are being created or modified for an online platform. According to the Army Management Staff College registrar, resident Civilian Education System classes have been canceled for the remainder of the fiscal year and will transition to virtual instruction.”
SMDC has also gone virtual with command-led training, according to Col. Samuel Glover, Resource Management Office, G8, deputy chief of staff. On April 24, the department hosted a virtual leadership training session for its team. The training utilized videos, memos and several speakers to highlight numerous topics, including the important role Army finance and comptroller personnel will have as they navigate the uncertainty of this fiscal period.
“This style of interactive training is more exciting than other online training that rely solely on videos to teach the material,” Glover said. “The G8 staff get to hear from their co-workers who they may not have seen in several months, and they have the opportunity to interact with each other and ask questions.”
Glover said that though they were not able to attend the conferences they usually would, team members who attended the online training earned a Certified Education Training credit, which staff must earn annually. The department hosted another training session May 28 and will continue to create training and development opportunities for their staff.
“These training sessions are helping the team prepare for the new normal and helping them build their Army leadership skills, like confidence,” Glover said. “They’re building confidence in their craft and learning how to navigate the budget changes and uncertainty they may face.”
Finding new, interactive ways to train may not be the only positive outcome from teleworking. De Berry said teleworking may be changing the way people view training and development methods because online training from home may be more efficient than completing it in the office.
“Teleworking conditions often provide the optimum environment for retention due to the absence of distractors associated with cubicle working environments,” De Berry said. “The teleworking environment and the self-development domain enable the civilian workforce to learn something new every day that will prepare them to meet future challenges and perform the critical and implied tasks associated with our organization’s mission and priorities.”
While COVID-19 is the cause of increased utilization of virtual training, De Berry said new online training and development plans are here to stay.
“All the training delivery methods being used during this pandemic are sustainable and will probably continue to be used even after the threat of the pandemic is over,” De Berry said. “New opportunities are continuing to become available and the civilian workforce now has a renewed awareness of the virtual training resources and opportunities available.”