Opportunities, advantages still abundant in this changing world

  • Published
  • By Louis T. Vance, Deputy Director
  • 88th Mission Support Group

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force and American workforce is facing some dynamic and challenging times.

As we struggle with inflation, we also battle unemployment and uncertainty in a changing world. As most citizens want higher pay for their services, they also want to work from home. As leaders look for opportunities to hire and optimize their workforce, the availability of technology clouds the landscape.

Workers want to pursue higher learning, better jobs and quality of life – all from home. The business of hiring folks to physically come into an office or work site is becoming emotional combat.

Our Air Force employees who were allowed to telework because of COVID-19 restrictions are now struggling with the challenge of returning to work. As we work through this hurdle, we must be bold and deliberate but also smart and use our employee-management relations staff as we make decisions.

When did we forget the benefits of employment? As an Air Force leader, I have always considered working for the federal government a privilege and honor.

As we vector the landscape of our civilian workforce, we can’t help but notice an older, more diverse and better-educated labor force. Employment has become a battle of wits whereby those joining the workforce constantly move around seeking better opportunities and miss out on career experience.

Working for the Air Force provides an opportunity to gain experience, education, professional development and networking. It offers opportunities in a myriad of career fields, just like most private industry jobs. The education benefits such as tuition assistance are very beneficial and yours for life – especially when you complete a degree program.

The developmental opportunities are some of the best you’ll find anywhere when you consider the Harvard Kennedy School of Business, University of Tennessee Strategies for Effective Leadership, Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, and multitude of intermediate and senior-level options found in the 2023 Officer Developmental Education Program Description Guide. And no, you don’t have to be an officer to take advantage of these opportunities.

Consider the young 21-year-old who entered the Air Force with only a high school diploma, and now holds three master’s degrees, six levels of professional military education, and various stages of intermediate and senior-development education; serves as an adjunct professor for Michigan State and Wayland Baptist University; and is writing this leadership commentary some 40 years later.

The point of all this is: As leaders, we must face the challenges of our day, vector-check employee issues and remind our workforce just how blessed they are. In addition, we need to share our story to restore hope to those who may be struggling so they’ll know that this too will pass, and better days are on the horizon.