Earlier this week, we hosted our first Federal Strategies Workshop of 2014. The event brought together chief learning officers and other federal training stakeholders from across the government to discuss key trends in competency-based assessments.

Developing Federal Leaders
The event began with two presentations from federal learning officials, Andrea Bright of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Sharon Ridings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A key emphasis of both presentations was the role that competency-based assessments can play in developing leaders in federal agencies. Bright discussed the role that technical skills often play in hiring new staff, and contrasted these skills with more general competencies that help determine success in the workplace. She urged the audience to assess potential leaders on these “soft skills,” such as teamwork, time management, and decision making, to help them develop leadership qualities before they enter higher-level roles.

Continuing on the leadership development theme, Ridings described how competency-based assessments should be used throughout the development process as a means to identify and cultivate federal managers. She used EPA University as an example of a professional learning program that builds leadership across the agency, helping to boost retention of top recruits while also reinforcing the importance of core competencies throughout an employee’s federal experience.

How to Implement Competency-Based Assessments
Following these insightful presentations from federal practitioners, Dr. Deborah Seymour of the American Council on Education and Blackboard’s Wade Weichel discussed key strategies for implementing competency-based assessments in government. Dr. Seymour emphasized the need for a common language on these assessments across higher education and the professional world, allowing for a more universal set of standards to recognize individual achievements and competencies. Weichel echoed this need for greater communication between higher education and professional training, and argued that learning technology is key to promoting competency-based assessments across these sectors.

Overall, this Federal Workshop was an exciting opportunity to bring together education practitioners and experts to discuss emerging strategies in federal training. We look forward to continuing the Workshop series throughout the rest of the year on topics that matter most to government CLOs and employees alike.

Presentations can be viewed here.

To learn about how Blackboard Inc. can help federal agencies develop learning programs and competency framework, check out our Government page or follow us on Twitter at @BlackboardProEd.

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