WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- A career development tool initiated by an Air Force Materiel Command member could be the driving force behind helping depot maintenance workers at AFMC's Air Logistics Centers excel in their careers.
"I always felt we were lacking in our ability to help individuals plan their careers, and so while assigned to the Maintenance Wing at Ogden Air Logistics Center, we developed a career mapping tool to do just that," said Ross Marshall, deputy director of Logistics at HQ AFMC. "We got it working at the local level and then I made a visit up to Headquarters and said, 'Here's what we've done at the center. I think it's up to you now to take it to the next level.'"
According to AFMC Depot Maintenance Workforce Development Branch member Steve McBride, nearly two- thirds of the depot maintenance population is under the federal wage system that includes wage grade (WG) and wage leader (WL) positions.
In response to the large population and in pursuit of personnel development across the board, a team of experts created the Civilian Career Development Program Maintenance tool. Marshall, who was then the OO-ALC deputy director of maintenance, and Scott Reynolds, then deputy director of the Space and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Directorate, led the development effort which has since expanded from Ogden across the command.
The guide formulated for WG-3 to General Schedule 15 positions provides trainees different development activities in order to help reach their goal in another depot maintenance occupational series, career field or their current specialty.
Trainees are also able to obtain the knowledge needed to excel from a mentor in their current or another specialty field.
"We like to see them (depot maintenance workers) served, and for one thing, they are more than half of our membership in American Federation of Government Employees (federal employee union)," said Tom Robinson, executive assistant to the president of AFGE Council 214.
AFGE is an organization that supports the improvements of services and benefits that federal employees receive.
Robinson said that since depot workers do not work at computers as part of a daily routine, their time is considered extremely valuable -- leaving little time for career development.
Jetta Reed, a production controller at Tinker AFB, Okla., manages incoming workloads and outgoing production for B-1 avionics. She said the training has ultimately helped to make her a better employee.
"I like the training that you get from the mapping tool. I'm very happy with my job, but you don't want to become complacent, and if CCDP-MX can help promote yourself then I say, by all means do so. Sometimes it's not about who you know but about what you know," said Reed.
According to McBride, incoming employees straight out of tech school, vocational school or currently working as a basic sheet metal mechanic or other entry position, have become a prime target audience for the career-oriented tool.
In fiscal year 2009, 1,882 people were hired into depot maintenance, an increase of 933 versus fiscal year 2008. With the large number of newcomers entering depot maintenance from fiscal year 2009, McBride said he hopes the tool will allow those interested to get an early start on their careers.
"We are trying to develop them or help them see the value of not only becoming experts in their current position, but also growing into other specialties within depot maintenance, getting other skill sets and professional credentials as well as professional military education. We want to take the next big group coming in, along with current developing personnel and accelerate them on their learning curves," said McBride.
While employees may use the career broadening tool as a stepping stone, Marshall said he hopes the tool will ultimately provide the Air Force with leaders for the future.
"The whole purpose of the tool is to help people map out their careers and build senior leaders. My hope is that -- from the guy down on the shop floor cranking out airplanes to whatever level in between -- they now have a tool that will provide them with the information that they need to map out their career as well as those that they are mentoring," he said. "And by doing that, they'll be able to progress and build the leadership that we need for the Air Force in the future."
For additional information, contact your respective Depot Maintenance Training Flight or visit the Air Force Portal and go to Applications A-Z, then click on the letter C to find CCDP-MX.