Simply training people for the tech jobs that need to be filled by government won’t solve the mounting level of job vacancies in those fields, according to Matisha Montgomery, chief learning officer, talent development and workforce planning division, at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Montgomery explained at ATARC’s Workforce Transformation Breakfast Summit on September 27 that training is only part of the solution to closing key workforce gaps.

“You don’t close those gaps and you don’t change those skill sets just through training,” Montgomery said. “I think we talk about training, training, training all the time. Sometimes I feel like as the chief learning officer, I’m sort of headed to ‘HE-double hockey sticks’ for saying training is not always the solution, but it’s just one piece of that pie,” said Montgomery

“Training is one way, it should always be part of that solution,” she said. “But you really need to be recruiting for skills that don’t currently exist in your workforce so that they can also train other people in your workforce.”

Montgomery emphasized that investing in individuals with a wider array of talents helps with creating a work culture that helps attract more talented individuals.

“Are you giving them opportunities? And if you’re seen as an organization that is doing that, then you’re more likely to have a deeper talent pool to pick from,” she said. “So being the best place to work, having a culture of learning, all of that is really important and critical to reskilling, upskilling, recruiting and retaining,” said Montgomery

At the same event Mitch Winans, senior advisor, enterprise digitalization, at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), explained government agencies also should think about rebranding public sector career paths.

“One thing I think we can do as government is to improve the branding, for us to become an employer of choice,” he said.

Part of a rebranding process, Winans said, involves investing in more engagement with colleges and universities.

“Connecting an internship or a developmental opportunity to a real true pipeline for a full-time opportunity is something that’s really, really attractive to students,” he said. “They’re interested in exploring different career fields and improving their skills and maybe getting some type of experience or knowledge that’s going to make them marketable for full time positions.”

“Maybe they’re thinking about grad school or other certifications, so really trying to meet people where they are and find that right match has been really valuable. University engagement is key,” Winans said.

Read More About
More Topics
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.