After success with last year’s Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is launching a virtual data science training program to teach Feds data skills relevant to their current roles.

Doc McConnell, cybersecurity policy advisor at OMB and co-leader of the data science training program, confirmed that he is working with the Federal CIO Council to develop the new program at the August 25 Federal Reskilling Virtual Summit. While program leaders were planning for a hybrid approach to the program, the data science training will now be completely online to accommodate COVID-19 concerns. The pilot cohort will feature 60 government employees participating in eight of hours of training each week over the course of six months.

“This year, we evolved our approach to tackle data science,” McConnell said. “Specifically, we wanted to look at upskilling Federal employees in data science skills, building on that expertise that they already have, and enabling them to develop new skills and apply those skills in new ways to their agency’s real-life business challenges.”

The model for these reskilling programs is effective because, as McConnell explained, adult learning and professional training works better with hands on scenarios that are applicable to the real world. The data science training program includes a final data science capstone drawing on data from the participants’ agencies so that they can apply the skills they’ve learned directly.

Recognizing the importance of data science across the Federal government, McConnell said that the program is seeking participants from all agencies. Agency heads have been tasked with nominating workers “who already may be using some basic data science skills or could benefit from some data science skills” to participate in the program, per McConnell.

While the nomination process for the initial program closed last week, McConnell suggested that Feds interested in the program should let their agency CIO know. Garnering interest in pilots will help leaders develop future opportunities, he said.

“We’re one more step down that road of proving that the Federal government has the capability to scale its remote data science workforce and its capability to reskill remotely,” McConnell said of the program.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.