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Education & Training: The training & competency panel

Gene Mesick
Chief, Air Force Civil Engineer Center Technical Services Division

     According to the Human Capital Annex to the USAF Strategic Master Plan May 2015, "The need for Airmen [to include our civilian workforce] who possess the right occupational skills and institutional competencies forms the core requirement of force development.  Where occupational competencies are required to build technical depth, the Air Force's institutional competencies are key to ensuring the ability of Airmen to operate successfully in a constantly changing environment at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels." 

     The plan's annex also discusses the critical need for lifelong education and training to enable our workforce to address ever-changing mission challenges and an increasingly complex world.  Training is foundational to ensure the occupational competencies of an Air Force civil engineer are adequately honed and kept current. 

     The Civil Engineer Civilian Training and Competencies, or T&C, Panel was created to work issues, develop policy and provide recommendations to the Air Force CE Civilian Functional Advisory Council on matters pertaining to training, career path mapping and occupational competencies. The T&C Panel's overall strategy to assist the CE career field is to define occupational competencies and map career paths for individual occupational series within the career field, and develop policies and guidance related to training.  The T&C Panel also systematically monitors and evaluates training and competencies policies and procedures for effects on the civilian workforce, and where change is warranted, implements and advocates appropriate policy changes.

     In 2011, the Air Force civil engineer launched a competency development initiative to accurately describe the capabilities of its workforce to support a larger Department of Defense-wide civilian competency management framework effort.  Since that time, the T&C Panel has completed the development of Competency Dictionaries for eight occupational series:

· 0810 - Civil Engineering
· 0819 - Environmental Engineering
· 0850 - Electrical Engineering
· 1170 - Housing Management
· 0808 - Architecture
· 0830 - Mechanical Engineering
· 0020 - Community Planning
· 1170 - Realty

     Competencies, as defined by these dictionaries, are a synthesis of knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviors that result in the successful completion of identified job requirements.  These competencies expand from traditional knowledge, skills and abilities, or KSAs, by including: the application of knowledge that brings about success; a measurable manifestation of skills that brings about success and observable behaviors related to objectives. 

     Associated with each competency is a matrix of proficiencies, which are a demonstration of the attainment and sustainment of a level of competence against established standards.  Proficiencies are not driven by grade, but by actual experience and training, and represent levels of development on a career continuum from entry level to subject matter expert.  You are encouraged to view the eight Competency Dictionaries at https://cs1.eis.af.mil/sites/ceportal/SiteCollectionDocuments/Forms/FD%20Civilian.aspx.

     For the first four occupational series on the above list, a training alignment matrix has been created, which correlates available and appropriate training courses to each identified competency in order to ensure more focused training experiences, and which enable an individual to progress upward across the various proficiencies associated with the competencies.  Within the next year, it is planned to create a training matrix for the last four occupational series as listed.

     Besides completing the training matrices, another next step for the competency effort is to link the competencies to Standard Core Personnel Documents, or SCPDs.  The T&C Panel is working closely with the Human Capital Panel to develop competency-based SCPDs, with the first draft SCPD being completed for a GS-0020-11, Community Planner.  The ultimate plan is to create a library of competency-based SCPDs, which will help establish a clear career path for Air Force civil engineers. 

     By the creation of occupational competencies and proficiencies, aligning these with specifically focused training and developing competency-based SCPDs, it is expected that our Air Force civil engineers will be well-equipped to meet the challenges they face going forward, which is critical to mission accomplishment, job success and career satisfaction.