Engineering and science career development : self-reflection and other methods used to steer professional development
Mercer, Dawn Denise
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With Baby Boomers leaving the workforce in large numbers ready for retirement, large skill gaps are being created in the workforce. Years of experience present today are gone tomorrow. In highly technical fields, such as NASA, the challenge of how to transfer this knowledge gathered from employees who have years of experience to those with less experience can be daunting. Typically, the method of transferring the information is through hands-on experience over time. However, time is a limited commodity and there is not enough of it to spend before workers who have the knowledge leave. This study attempts to determine if using more experienced employees in training opportunities, using real-world examples, can effectively transfer knowledge and assist employees in self-reflection and career planning. A group of twenty-six newer, less experienced employees at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center participated in four training sessions taught by thirty-three senior leaders and held over a period of several weeks. The content was built around the NASA Life Cycle Process, the backbone of planning, executing, and ending a program or project. Normally, understanding this process takes up to fifteen years. In addition to the training, participants completed feedback forms, a pre and post-survey, a portfolio questionnaire and one-on-one interviews. The data showed the training was highly effective in transferring sophisticated levels of knowledge applied to how work is done. And, though it also showed an impact in an employee's awareness of actions they can take to steer their career, it brings in to question their motivation and initiative to assert self-directed development.