White House previews data tools to bolster federal STEM workforce
At an event celebrating the expansion of roles at federal agencies centered around science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management debuted five workforce data tool prototypes that, once complete, will help agencies bring more STEM-skilled employees into the fold.
“Every day, the federal science and technology workforce conducts research, performs analysis, administers and carries out programs that help grow our nation’s economy, boost national security and protect public health, safety and our environment,” a fact sheet obtained exclusively by FedScoop said. “Through their work, they seek answers to urgent science and technology questions, help ensure that innovative solutions and technologies are rapidly prototyped and brought to market.”
Called “Celebrating Careers and Contributions of our Federal Science and Technology Workforce,” the event was held Wednesday in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and brought together more than 50 federal employees with STEM-related jobs.
During a speech, President Barack Obama’s science adviser and director of OSTP, John Holdren, said science and technology’s role was a centerpiece in addressing the goals of the administration.
“Whether it’s boosting economic growth, improving public health, combatting climate change or protecting our national security — science and technology have a critical role to play in addressing all of our national goals,” Holdren said.
OPM’s prototyped products unveiled at the event track STEM trends and needs in the federal workforce, and came from a January 2014 data jam hosted by OPM and OSTP.
The Hiring Manager’s Portal, which is Web based, will help managers identify STEM applicants. The portal will also target job postings to certain skills and qualifications, based on OPM data resources. Federal hiring managers will have access to the tool through OPM.
In another online resource, agencies will be able to provide a way for employees to build on their science and technology skills.
The federal agency STEM Employee Directory will help hiring managers look for STEM-skilled employees who already work within the federal government. According to the fact sheet, the tool is still being developed, but it will be available to hiring managers and other interested parties in the agency community.
Similarly, the STEM Data Catalog will be a community-based resource for agencies to analyze information on science and technology applicants to better understand the challenges they face in the federal workforce. The catalog tool is also still being developed.
A tool for hiring managers, the STEM Applicant Dashboard, will allow managers to determine at what stages in the hiring process they are losing applicants. Designed to be an analytical resource, the tool “will empower users with a data-driven tool to answer questions and hone strategies related to STEM applicant pools.”
During her remarks at the event, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said recruiting for STEM jobs brings more opportunity into government and gives the federal government more of an opportunity to hire millennials — something it has struggled with in recent years.
“We also have an opportunity to bring in more people from groups that are underrepresented in the federal workforce. When we are successful in all of these efforts, we will have built the kind of STEM workforce that will meet the increasing demands and challenges of the 21st century,” Archuleta said. “This workforce will make a difference, and it will be a model workforce that reflects the talent from every corner of this great country, and from every community that is the mosaic of America.”
Holdren and Archuleta spoke at the morning session of the event, which continued into the afternoon. According to the White House, the event was open only to stakeholders.
In a blog post obtained early by FedScoop, Jayne Morrow, the executive director of OSTP’s National Science and Technology Council, and Sydney Smith-Heimbrock, the deputy associate director for Strategic Workforce Planning and Chief Learning Officer at OPM, jointly commended the achievement of federal STEM workers.
“OSTP and OPM applaud the work of the US Government’s STEM workforce and look forward to continually supporting and broadening participation in STEM Careers that serve the American people,” the post said. “These innovators are skilled professionals with expertise in areas as diverse as supercomputing, climate science, ecosystem conservation, robotics, energy systems and epidemiology.”
According to the blog post, STEM’s presence in the federal workforce has been an important part of the Obama administration’s priorities. The administration has also repeatedly emphasized the importance of increasing the level of STEM education, including at the 2014 White House Science Fair.