2016 Learning! 100 Award Winner - Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)
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Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)


2016 Learning! 100 Award Winner

August 29, 2016

From Page 16 External link to a non-government website of the August/September 2016 issue of Elearning! Magazine

The sixth annual Learning! 100 Awards honor the world’s top learning organizations for innovation, collaboration and performance. The Learning! 100 are comprised of 60 corporate enterprises and 40 public sector honorees from government, nonprofifit and education. These organizations confront the pressing issues of global competition, innovation and constant change.

Specific to the VA Acquisition Academy from Page 26 External link to a non-government website of the August/September 2016 issue of Elearning! Magazine

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing federal benefits to more than 23.4 million veterans and their families.  The VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) trains employees who manage more than $17 billion to ensure it efficiently and effectively provides the services to U.S. Veterans.  An integrated competency-based training curriculum is offered to certify this team.  The VAAA’s fundamental learning strategy reflects a commitment to stakeholder engagement and value measurement methodologies ensuring that all business results support the VA major initiatives.

In 2011, there were approximately one million unemployed Veterans and the unemployment rate for post-9/11 wounded Veterans ages 18-34 was, and still is, significantly higher than the rest of the Veteran and civilian population.  Therefore, the VA developed a program that was designed to address both needs by training post-9/11 wounded Veterans whose careers were cut short due to a service connected disability as contract specialists.  This undertaking, The Warriors to Workforce (W2W) Program, supports the VAAA’s mission to support the Secretary’s commitment to Veteran employment and succession planning for the acquisition workforce.  W2W also supports the President’s Executive Order 13518 to do everything in our power to assist Veterans in re-entering civilian life and finding employment.

W2W is a one-year transition program at VAAA that offers Veterans an opportunity to build a new career in the federal government by applying their military experiences and skills to the acquisition field.  The program focuses on transitional support, mentoring, professional development, and foundational career training activities to equip wounded Veterans with skills and experiences that allow them to serve a new mission as federal civil servants.  After completing the W2W Program, individuals advance to existing entry-level internship programs to complete their transition to a professional career.

W2W participants have successfully transitioned into careers as both contract specialists and project managers through two programs:  the two-year Acquisition Intern Program (AIP) and the Project Manager Fellows (PMF) Program.  Since W2W is designed as a feeder program for various professional track programs, the transition year can be customized and paired for transition into other career development programs as well.  Interns are hired as grade level five federal government employees.

The W2W curriculum includes four main components; Business Education, Professional Development, Mission Service, and Peak Performance Training.  The Business Education (BE) component provides the necessary knowledge and college credits to meet the positive education requirements to enter the contract specialist or PM career fields.  The BE component can be customized for other career fields.

To date, the W2W program has hired 93 service-disabled Veterans.  Among three cohorts 96 percent (89) completed the program and 24 Veterans are currently active in the program.  Two additional cohorts began in February 2016.  Of those W2W interns who graduated from AIP and PMF, 100 percent were placed as full time government employees.  So far, three other government agencies (OGAs) have participated in the W2W Program and hired and placed ten W2W interns.  The W2W program consistently validates effectiveness, incorporates lessons learned, and monitors 28 key program metrics.  W2W successes include:  Average college course GPA of 3.5 out of 4.0; Performance rating of 4.5/5.0 given by supervisors during training rotations; more than 20 W2W interns will have college degrees by December 2016; peak performance training has resulted in 165 percent average improvement in attention, 122 percent average brain speed improvement for working memory, 139 percent average improvement on short term memory recall and 82 percent average improvement in problem-solving.  To learn more about the W2W program, visit the program website.

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