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GAO Recommends Quantitative, Mission-Critical Skill Gap Assessment in FAA Workforce

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The Government Accountability Office has called on the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a quantitative approach to assess skill gaps among FAA employees who perform mission-critical work to help them prepare for emerging aviation technology trends.

GAO said Thursday its recommendation to the FAA's human resource management office follows a review of workforce planning methods at the U.S. regulatory agency for civil aviation activities.

The audit agency found that FAA personnel response rates to the Department of Transportation's 2020 workforce assessment study ranged only from 12 percent to 25 percent, which may not offer a complete picture to determine what essential skills agency employees need to keep up with technological changes.

FAA launched its Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative in 2018 to analyze data analytics, project management and cybersecurity skills and the agency conducted qualitative interviews of managers and staff members in 2019 to gather insight on skill gaps, but GAO says the discussions lacked measurable data to identify what needs to be addressed.

The office noted that FAA should determine competencies that are necessary for agency personnel to adapt to innovations such as the potential integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.