News | April 15, 2021

Training Academy aims for equity, ‘well-rounded’ employees

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Training Academy, a pilot program for early career employees, kicked off with a virtual roll-out meeting with participants April 7.

The goal is to provide an organizational standard of training for new employees, according to one of the program’s developers and Industrial Hardware Traditional Acquisition Division Chief Joanne Anello. It will also complement existing training programs to result in more equitable learning opportunities for hands-on training.

“We want to create well-rounded employees by giving them all the same foundation,” Anello said.

While cradle-to-grave acquisition processes are taught through Defense Acquisition University classes over the course of a new employee’s tenure, the Training Academy goes a step further than DAU’s classroom and virtual instruction, Anello said.  

The Academy will supplement the DAU and DLA Troop Support Career Development training by providing hands-on systems experience with dedicated trainers, using real-time acquisitions of varying values across multiple commodities.

Current participants include 24 recently hired employees in DLA’s Pathways to Career Excellence program. 

The pilot is starting with the most recent PaCE hires in the acquisition career field and is different from previous iterations of PaCE training according to Christina Miller, Director of Internal Review and former Organizational Development Division Chief with oversight of PaCE training when the Training Academy was first developing.

“The Training Academy is combining a few approaches we’ve tried before, just not at the same time,” Miller said. “It uses dedicated contracting officers from the supply chains as trainers and will use a variety of work – from all supply chains - to let [PaCErs] see ‘the whole picture’ with time to grasp the process, while the contracting officers in the supply chains focus on productivity,” Miller said.

Currently, PaCE employees, or “PaCErs,” are managed by the Career Development office and are assigned various trainers throughout Troop Support’s five supply chains. Each trainer is an operational contracting officer whose workload pressures can sometimes strain their ability to focus on training, Anello said.

“If a new employee is placed in a post-award [team] for training, they may not get any experience in the pre-award process,” Anello said. “They aren’t experiencing the whole acquisition process.”

Michelle Nieves leads the Career Development team, and from her perspective the Academy will improve the way new employees learn.

“Training is different than production,” Nieves said. “When we are training, we move at a slower pace than supply chain production timelines to provide more detailed learning and ensure concepts are grasped.”

The Training Academy will allow that to happen more easily and equitably, she said.

The idea for the program grew from feedback received by the organization’s Command team through channels such as the 2018 Climate Culture Survey, PaCE Town Halls and brown-bag lunches with leaders, Anello said.

Richard Ellis, DLA Troop Support’s Deputy Commander provided a welcome to pilot program participants and emphasized that their feedback would be one of the keys to the Training Academy’s success.

“We want to hear what you have to say, what you want and what you need,” Ellis said. “This is a pilot, and we will improve as we move along.”

The hope, Anello said, is to extend the program beyond acquisition coded PaCErs and include all career fields, interns and new employees.

“The goal is to bring all disciplines into the Academy so the training, language and baseline processes are taught the same way,” Miller said.

Ellis sees the Training Academy as a way to fulfill part of his role as a leader of the organization.

“Part of my responsibility is to provide you all with the knowledge, skills and tools you need to support the warfighter and do your job,” Ellis said. “My desire is that all of our new employees are on a level playing field in their learning … and as you get through the PaCE program, I want to ensure we’ve done all we can to provide what you need.”