In recent years, scandals and budget cuts have made training and career development an afterthought for many federal workers.
But with waves of retirees taking decades of expertise with them, younger employees stepping into their shoes are finding holes in their knowledge. And often they’re not getting it filled by their agencies.
Enter GovLoop, the Facebook for feds and a lot more, with a free online training program for public sector professionals.
GovLoop Academy, which launches Friday, will offer employees in federal, state and local governments 25 online courses to enhance their professional development. They range from becoming a better public speaker to unlocking the secrets of cybersecurity in a crash course, to getting employees to love what they do.
“One thing we’ve learned on GovLoop is that there’s a huge need for our community to do their jobs better and get ahead in their careers,” said Steve Ressler, GovLoop’s founder and president.
He said employees at all levels of government are hungry to learn more about their jobs.
“With everyone trying to retire, the people left are asked to take up new tasks and skills,” Ressler, a former federal employee himself, said. “But agencies don’t have training budgets. And the employees don’t have time to go out of the classroom for three or four days.”
Training, when it is available, “often doesn’t catch up fast enough with new technology and innovation,” he said. So that’s why GovLoop Academy is focused on cutting-edge topics, like open data, human-centered design and other areas where government is trying to use technology to change.
The classes will probably appeal most to the “ambitious, go-getter, want-to-change-the-world type of person,” he said.
The classes are available on-demand, as opposed to through webinars that meet at scheduled times. Some are 10-minutes long. Others last an hour or more.
Ressler said he was inspired to create the forum by innovations in the field of online learning in the private sector.
GovLoop has grown in a few years to 150,000 members. The site experimented last year with several online webinars before deciding to expand. The new classes are more interactive, with higher production quality, Ressler said.