MSPB: Screen workers' abilities prior to training

Friday - 3/4/2011, 3:45pm EST

Dr. John Ford, senior research psychologist, MSPB

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By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

The majority of federal workers are participating in training that they may not be prepared for.

Dr. John Ford, a senior research psychologist at the Merit Systems Protection Board, told the DorobekINSIDER that many employees end up in training programs for the second or third time.

"Not everything is equally easy to learn," Ford said. "While most federal employees try to learn things related to their jobs ... some try to develop skills in areas that require some pre-existing abilities."

Ford said that training in areas such as languages, reasoning and advanced social skills require some type of prior ability.

Other areas that may give employees trouble are "leadership skills like advanced negotiating and working with people which are more personality characteristics or characteristics of the employee that are not very responsive to training," Ford said.

MSPB gathers information for its report periodically by asking feds a series of questions, including ones about training they have done and training they plan to do.

MSPB said it hopes the report will help match employees with the right training for them.

Ford said that one way to solve this problem is to have more one-on-one meetings between managers and employees. By pre-assessing employees before they go to training, time and money can be saved.

Ford also suggested asking training vendors for a screening process highlighting necessary skills to ensure workers are ready to learn.

"On their own, training vendors are not going to be very motivated to do that because anything that screens people out of training puts fewer dollars in their pocket," Ford said.

Ford said saving time and money is equally as important as not frustrating employees by sending them to training they are not prepared for.

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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