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Education & Training: OPM training opportunities

Sylvia Crowell
CE career field management analyst

Olga Simons
CE career program assistant

     The office of personnel management, or OPM, offers unique training courses focused on developing leaders in the federal government.  OPM courses are unique because they address contemporary leadership and management challenges through the perspective of government employees in  public service positions. In this context, OPM developed five core leadership qualifications for government employees, called Executive Core Qualifications, or ECQs. ECQs are required for entry into the Senior Executive Service and are used by many agencies in selection for management and executive positions.  The five core ECQs are: leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen and building coalitions.  OPM designed its training to build and enhance these ECQs in each individual. 

     The civil engineer career field team offers opportunities to advance ECQ skills through attendance of four OPM classes.  The CE CFT selected the following four key courses to provide career long leadership training: Collaborative Leadership, Leadership Skills for Non-Supervisors, Leading from the Middle and Leading Organizations.  The first of these OPM courses, Collaborative Leadership, is designed to improve understanding of peer-to-peer leadership and group dynamics in order to increase one's ability to influence others and contribute to group work environments.  The second OPM course, Leadership Skills for Non-Supervisors, is designed to assist in leading and influencing through positive interpersonal dynamics and communications as opposed to solely authority of position.  The third course, Leadership from the Middle, is focused on developing key management competencies such as critical thinking, conflict management, leveraging diversity, and problem solving.   The fourth course, Leading Organizations, is designed to provide an overview of the systems and best practices of an organization and to give useful framework for leading organizations into the future. 

      Although there are additional classes available through OPM, the CE CFT limits funding to these select four courses due to the importance of the course material, and to avoid duplicative course content.  Each OPM course is interactive, intense and, depending on the course, can last from four days to two weeks.   The courses funded by the CFT fill up fast and early registration is critical.  As a result, the CFT developed a process to ensure timely registration and selection of individuals who exhibit management and leadership skills.  

     The process for CFT-funded attendance at an OPM course begins with an annual call for nominations from the MAJCOMs.  The annual call is generally sent out in the fall.  To be eligible for an OPM class, an individual needs to be a General Schedule employee in a centrally managed position (GS-12, GS-13 or GS-14) who hasn't attended an OPM course within the last two years.   Once MAJCOMs identify eligible candidates, they send the names of nominated employees along with a prioritization of requests to the CE CFT training coordinator, where they are further prioritized according to education level, professional military education and registration or certification.  The CE CFT training coordinator will send a notice to the individual if they have been approved for training in conjunction with a request for a Standard Form 182.  Once the completed SF-182 is received it will go for final funding approval within the Air Force Personnel Center.  

     For many years the CE CFT has invested in the future success of the Air Force, and trained aspiring leaders, supervisors and managers through OPM courses.  OPM courses provide the opportunity to build and enhance qualifications sought in Air Force leaders, and provide valuable lessons which can be used throughout the CE leadership journey.  The CE CFT strives to train and develop individuals to become the most capable CE workforce needed to accomplish the Air Force mission, and become the leaders of tomorrow. Plan your leadership journey soon and make an OPM course a part of it.

Editor's Note: The article is part of the education and training summer series.