The current unemployment rate sits at just 3.7%, and although some economists predict it could reach 5.5%, it would still be below the 5.74% average from 1948 to 2022. Americans have just more options when it comes to finding a job, and employees can be a lot more picky about which jobs they’re willing to take on. But the US intelligence community (IC) is facing a manpower shortage. At the same time, they are also striving to be much more inclusive in hiring and retaining minorities, women, and people with disabilities. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released IC’s annual demographic report for fiscal year 2021, highlighting ongoing efforts to foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the workforce, while addressing areas for improvement.
“To provide strategic advantage to policymakers and warfighters, we must understand the world, which is ever-changing and more connected than ever,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in a statement. “Building an IC workforce of people who think differently, see problems differently, and overcome challenges differently is a prerequisite for success.
The annual Demographics Report to Congress is required by law, and since 2016 has been publicly released to provide transparency on IC’s progress in improving diversity, inclusion and ‘accessibility.
Compete in a Changing Employer Market
The report noted that to attract and retain a diverse, inclusive and skilled workforce, IC must be competitive in a changing employer market. At the same time, IC’s ability to leverage talents and perspectives from diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints is seen as critical in a rapidly changing global threat environment.
“It is imperative to ensure that we have an IC workforce that thinks differently, sees problems differently and overcomes challenges differently. Their creativity ensures that our nation is secure against the range of adversaries and foreign threats we face,” the report states.
Additionally, the ODNI also suggested that the IC data may not reflect reported workforce trends in the U.S. labor market as a whole, since most IC positions require a bachelor’s degree and, from as of fiscal year 2020, only 32% of the U.S. workforce met this requirement.
“It’s a master mix of different things happening at the same time,” explained Dr. Maurice “Mo” Cayer, coordinator of the MS-Human Resources program at the University of New Haven.
“First, we have a large number of openings in the job market – only six million people are now in the job market, so there are 1.7 openings for every person looking for a job,” Cayer told ClearanceJobs.
As a result, candidates have far more influence than they ever had. This allows many candidates to be “fussy” in the positions they are willing to fill, Cayer said. “Even if the number of available jobs decreases, it remains astronomical.”
Launch a large recruitment network
Efforts to have a more inclusive workforce are not entirely new to the ODNI, which has adopted “diversity” as a core value of its principles of professional ethics for the intelligence community. The principle suggests that to combat emerging and increasingly complex global threats to national security, CI must employ, develop and retain a dynamic and agile workforce that reflects diversity in its broadest context. : cultural origins, ethnic origin, race, gender, age, disability. , gender identity, heritage, language proficiency and perspectives.
The question some may ask is whether the problem of ensuring such diversity could mean that positions go unfilled – and jeopardize the country’s security.
“When taken to extremes, this can be a problem,” warns Cayer. “If you don’t have qualified employees, people who connect the dots, there could be problems. IC needs to focus first and foremost on skill sets, and hiring people on diversity may not get the job done. Representativeness is a laudable objective, but it is not the primary objective, which is to accomplish the mission.
Additionally, there is concern that to fill the roles, the IC will have to lower its standards. Still, some standards could perhaps be lowered to find the best candidates.
“An example would be the college requirement,” Cayer added. “At least in a general sense, there is an opinion that not all positions may need a degree. Jobs could be filled based on skills, not on a degree from a particular university. Instead, it should be about whether the employee can critically review a case and “make the connection”.
The final consideration in finding the right talent is that those who work in CI generally enjoy what they do, and effort should be made to tap into that job satisfaction.
“IC is having a bit of a hard time hiring and retaining, even though satisfaction is relatively high compared to other federal agencies,” Cayer noted. “They should brag about it, ‘people like working here’.”