Downsizing requirements and the ever-changing needs of the fleet
are placing severe demands on the U.S. Navys Education and Training
Command. Through it all, the command is maintaining a steady
Its a familiar story: Performance-driven organization must maintain
its workforce at peak levels and meet retention goals while coping
with budget cutbacks and an unyielding do-more-with-less mandate.
The U.S. Navy, Naval Education and Training Command faces these
challenges every day, and it is meeting them with military
What began a decade ago with an initiative called Revolution in
Training has brought the Navy to an enviable point. It has created
a holistic approach to learning and development that embraces the
career and personal growth of sailors while meeting the Navys need
for versatile professionals.
The strategy also embraces a broad array of best practices that
rival anything seen in the private sector. The results speak for
Rear Admiral Joseph Kilkenny, commander of the Naval Education and
Training Command in Pensacola, Florida, summarizes the approach: We
are using learning and development, skills training, professional
education, well-rounded assignments, voluntary education, and
occupational certification programs as well as the Navys online
credentialing opportunities to provide the right sailors with the
right skills at the right time.
In todays Navy, he says, every sailor is encouraged to make the
service his career. A human capital management system dubbed a
career roadmap identifies each sailors competencies and matches
them with compatible job descriptions. The process begins on the
day an individual joins the Navy with the establishment of a
personal and professional career guide that will be used throughout
by the sailor, career counselors, supervisors, and mentors. There
is no second guessing, adds Kilkenny.
A cornerstone of the strategy is a leadership continuum that offers
development opportunities and tailored leadership training that
begins early in a sailors career. A progression roadmap includes
leadership education and experience milestones that are required
for advancement at specific promotional junctures. Personal
financial management training and tuition assistance support are
part of this optional program.
Perhaps no single initiative better exemplifies the Navys modern
approach to training and retention than its strategy to create
credentialing opportunities onlineknown as Navy COOL. The
integrated, robust, and highly visible program offers sailors the
opportunity to gain civilian certifications that correspond to
their Navy ratings, collateral duties, and out-of-Navy assignments.
Individuals in more than 95 specialties can gain such recognized
certification licensing. More than 1,700 civilian certifications
are now funded.
The Navy benefits from sailors with increased proficiency through
gaining and maintaining industry-recognized skills, explains
Kilkenny. He says the service discovered that students who took
part in a continuing education or apprenticeship program had a
retention rate of 94 percent compared with only 54 percent for
those who had not. The message: Invest in your people and they will
remain with the organization.
The optional Navy COOL program is just one example of the Navys
learner-centric strategy aimed at encouraging sailors to invest in
their personal and professional development. To ensure that they
understand their training and education requirements and
opportunities at every career stage, the Navy has developed
learning and development roadmaps for each of its 100-plus
occupations. They enable sailors to self-evaluate and monitor their
milestones en route.
The results are easily measured. About 31 percent of personnel in
their first enlistment with no college education remain with the
organization. For those who seize educational opportunities, the
re-enlistment rates climb to 37 percent if they have 15 college
credits and hits 55 percent for those with 60 college credits.
The training and development programs are succeeding despite a
fiscal landscape that is becoming more severe for all elements of
the Navy. We are committed to making cost-cutting moves that wont
impact the efficacy of our training, says Kilkenny. We will
continue to provide well-qualified individuals to meet the
ever-changing requirements of the fleet.
One obvious handicap facing the Navy and every other military
branch is the inability to make horizontal additions of expertise
and leadership. All experience comes from the maturation of an
entry-level workforce. Following basic training and other
indoctrination, sailors begin their training in one of the many
different specialties, and select from the array of educational
Expectations are high. Off-duty education programs give sailors
options to achieve their personal goals, affect job performance
positively, and therefore improve opportunities for promotion.
Individuals entering with a high school education can complete an
associate degree in less time than the traditional student since
many academic institutions consider military training and
experience when evaluating requirements needed to complete a
degree. Courses are provided at remote sites throughout the world
and are available through distant learning partnerships with
colleges and universities. Last year, the Navy spent more than $87
million in tuition assistance.
The Navys aggressive adoption of blended learning technologies as
it transitions from brick and mortar arguably outpaces the private
sector. Online courses, interactive virtual classroom training,
simulations, and the latest in game-based and virtual learning are
among the assortment of delivery methods employed to improve
learning while also meeting budget and time-to-proficiency
For example, the future of 3D immersive training is on display at
the Navys boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. The Navys Virtual
Environments for Ship and Shore Experiential Learning project
(VESSEL) enables recruits to make instant decisions within virtual
environments that involve highly instructive crisis situations.
A digital tutor pilot launched in 2010 leverages work by Silicon
Valley IT experts to model computer-based learning for the next
generation of IT personnel. Skills used by instructors to teach and
adapt to individual students have been incorporated into a form of
artificial intelligence, enabling one-on-one teaching in a
Regardless of the training delivery method employed, learnings link
to individual and organizational performance is measured at every
opportunity. One such effort employs permanently assigned teams to
evaluate individual and team performance across several
organizational units. They assess both the transfer of formal
classroom training and on-the-job training.
In one occupational area, for example, a bundling of computer-based
training with instructor-led refresher training has resulted in a
decrease of non-graduation rates by 95 percent. Per-student time to
train was decreased by 38 days, and training cost-per-student was
decreased by 35 percent.
To help ensure that training remains aligned with the fleets needs,
a process called the Human Performance Requirements Review is
employed. All courses regularly undergo this review to ensure that
the right training is delivered via the most appropriate method at
the right time in an individuals career.
The process also eliminates redundant or unnecessary training and
monitors fleet requirements to determine if any new or added
training is required. Yet the search for such efficiencies
continues at a relentless pace during this time of fiscal
restraint. Reduction in content development costs, especially in
the maintenance of aging courses, is another of the myriad efforts
Leaving no stone unturned, the training command recently contracted
for an energetic enlisted supply chain business improvement effort.
The outcome of this effort will refine our student training
processes, retool our training systems, and find efficiencies in
our student training production lines, says Kilkenny. This will
further enhance training effectiveness and increased on-time
delivery of trained sailors.
Note: This article is excerpted from T+D
magazine. For more ASTD BEST winners, visit the T+D website.