In a rapidly changing aerial-technology landscape in which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is increasingly overseeing flights of emerging technologies like drones, FAA needs to step up its processes to gather quantitative data on skills gaps in its current workforce, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released May 13.

The FAA has already identified the critical skills its workforce will need to respond to technology changes through its workforce planning initiative, but currently, that gap assessment is only qualitative. GAO recommends those skill gap assessments be quantitative as well

“In 2019, FAA conducted interviews with managers and staff to collect officials’ perspectives on what skill gaps exist. While the qualitative interviews yielded useful information on the skills needed, they did not provide measurable data showing how many employees have the skills needed and where gaps exist,” GAO’s report says.

The FAA concurred with GAO’s recommendation and said it will look to update that process.

The GAO report notes that FAA also obtained some information on what skill gaps exist in its workforce through a 2020 Department of Transportation (DoT) survey, but the response rate was low and, thus, the effort did not provide a complete assessment of the skill gaps that need to be bridged to prepare the workforce for technological changes.

GAO said FAA officials are currently planning on conducting additional skill-gap assessments and are working on creating a new strategic workforce-planning policy to facilitate the agency-wide coordination it currently lacks.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.