Each year, federal employees complete the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). The survey assesses the engagement and satisfaction of the government’s workforce. Since 2012, the percentage of employees who are satisfied with the training they receive to do their job has hovered at just over 50%.  And, some employees claim their skills have fallen behind those in industry because their agency won’t pay for them to go to training. The question becomes, “Who is responsible for making sure employees maintain their skills and learn more?

Often, this is the point where an average employee may throw their hands up, resign themselves to never being marketable again, or rationalize that if they aren’t successful then it’s the agency’s fault.

This is only half true.

Should the agency pay for training? Absolutely! Do employees hold zero responsibility for learning on their own? Absolutely not! You must be willing to make an investment in yourself.

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In the short term, the agency will suffer for not having invested in their employees. However, an employee who takes personally responsibility for maintaining their skills will benefit for their entire career. Besides, you aren’t the average employee are you?

I can hear the naysayers: They don’t pay me enough to pay for my own training! Why should the agency benefit from me paying for training out of my own pocket?

I can appreciate this perspective. At the same time, I think this is partly due to the myth that training has to cost something. Or, that learning has to be in a classroom. This isn’t true. There are many opportunities to learn more for free or cost less than your coffee budget for the month.

Don’t believe me?

Here are low-cost, high value learning investments to learn more:

Let’s say you want to improve your communication skills and navigate conflict more effectively.

  • For around $12, you could buy a copy of Crucial Conversations. A book, I strongly recommend.
  • For between $25 a month to $250 a year (at the time of this writing), you could get a subscription to Lynda.com. With the subscription you get access to a ton of communication classes. As a bonus, there are all sorts of other business-related courses. I’ve also heard that some public libraries also provide free licenses. Just a couple of the communication course titles are:
    • Communicating with confidence
    • Communicating across cultures
    • Improving your conflict competence
    • Conflict resolution fundamentals

Too rich for your pocketbook?

Here are free options to learn more:

So yes, you’re right. Agencies should see the importance of training and ensuring theirs a budget to support you. Rather than wait for them to change, make an investment in yourself to learn more. With little more than a time investment, you will be ready for the next job opportunity. You may even surprise your supervisor with rocking your next project.

Here’s the 2015 FEVS report if you want to take a look at the results yourself.

Note: The link to Crucial Conversations is an affiliate link. For all other sources I do not receive any financial benefit.

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