The Department of the Air Force is unveiling a new civilian career talent management process designed to be more nimble in developing both civilian leaders as well as growing technical expertise/competence.
The new “Civilians We Need” career model and accompanying career roadmaps will help DAF civilians plan their job experiences, education, training, and leadership opportunities to meet their professional goals.
The dual-track civilian career model, which distinguishes paths for both enterprise leaders and functional experts, was created to enhance retention as well as to promote greater diversity.
“DAF civilians join the workforce from a variety of different sources, and it’s imperative that we have a flexible framework to develop their careers,” said Alex Wagner, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “Some desire to become functional experts or leaders, and others desire to become enterprise leaders. The DAF needs and values both.”
The 2020 Racial Disparity Review and recent RAND study indicated that the DAF has disparities in senior civilian positions starting at the GS-13 level through the Senior Executive Service level. Factors such as expectations for geographic mobility and professional military education involving mobility were seen as barriers to advancement for certain races/ethnicities and women.
The traditional enterprise leader track provides a broad base of development for those who aspire to enterprise leadership positions such as SES. This track emphasizes depth and breadth of experience both within and beyond one’s primary functional area, geographic mobility, and professional military education.
The new functional expert/leader track is for developing functional experts and leaders with substantive technical expertise and institutional memory. This track encourages formal education at the master’s or doctoral degree level to prioritize depth of technical knowledge.
A DAF-level roadmap representing desired attributes has been developed for each career track. These roadmaps serve as guides for career decision making based on whether the employee seeks development designed to prepare for DAF enterprise leadership roles or roles which provide deep functional expertise and senior leadership within a given functional area.
Leaders understand that career aspirations and personal circumstances may change, so these roadmaps were developed to also allow an individual to switch between the two career tracks at any given point in time.
“The career roadmaps have been defined and establish expectations for civilian career development,” said Gwendolyn DeFilippi, assistant deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services. “Whether they are mobile and aspire to enterprise leader positions or whether they want to be the best functional expert that they can be, all civilians are valued — their contributions are valued — and we have laid out a development track for them.”
In addition to the DAF-level career roadmaps, career field managers will build career-field specific versions of both roadmaps that will be available on MyVector.
The roadmaps are another part of the DAF’s “Growing Airmen of the Future” initiative that will shape the force we need, both military and civilian, to face future challenges.
The “Civilians We Need” Model and career roadmaps have been codified in the DAF Manual 36-142, Civilian Career Field Management and Force Development, which now includes references to the Space Force and supersedes AF Manual 36-606.