Upward Mobility

230 FW 3
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Training (NCTC)

3.1 Purpose. This chapter defines responsibilities, sets procedures, and provides guidelines for planning, developing, and implementing an Upward Mobility Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

3.2 Objectives. The objectives of the Service Upward Mobility Program are:

A. To more effectively utilize the capabilities of employees.

B. To develop a broader base of personnel for occupations that provide career ladders, increasing the diversity of the employee population in those occupations.

C. To motivate underdeveloped employees by providing career enhancement opportunities to employees in grades GS-1 through GS-9.

3.3 Scope. The provisions of this chapter apply to all Service employees in grades GS-1 through GS-9.

3.4 Policy. It is the policy of the Service to utilize its employees to the fullest extent of their capabilities and to allow employees to fully realize their potential. The Upward Mobility Program is one of the means available in achieving this goal. The Service provides opportunity for eligible employees regardless of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, or any other non-merit factor.

3.5 Authority. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-261); Executive Order 11478; and 5 U.S.C. 41.

3.6 Responsibilities.

A. The Director is responsible for the overall effective operation of the Upward Mobility Program.

B. Assistant Directors and Regional Directors are responsible for implementation of the Upward Mobility Program in their organizations.

C. The Chief, Division of Personnel Management is responsible for the staffing, recruitment and evaluation aspects of the Headquarters Upward Mobility Program.

D. The Chief, Office of Training and Education has Servicewide program responsibility, issues policy and is responsible for all training aspects of the Upward Mobility Program for Headquarters and is responsible for issuing policy.

E. The Chief, Office for Human Resources will ensure that the Upward Mobility Program is an integral part of the Service's Affirmative Action Plan.

F. The Servicing Personnel Office (SPO) is responsible for implementation, operation, and evaluation of the Upward Mobility Program in their area of responsibility. The SPO is also responsible for advising and familiarizing supervisors on all facets of the program.

G. Supervisors should fully consider the Upward Mobility Program as a viable recruitment alternative that provides career enhancement opportunities to underdeveloped employees. In addition, supervisors should develop new performance standards for upward mobility positions that reflect the trainee's responsibilities, participate fully in developing and monitoring the trainee's Individual Development Plan, and evaluate the trainee's progress on a quarterly basis.

3.7 Definitions.

A. Upward Mobility is a systematic management effort to ensure that personnel policy and practices provide career opportunities for employees in grades GS-1 through GS-9 who are in positions or occupational series which do not enable them to realize their full work potential. The skills and abilities of such employees may be underdeveloped. Upward Mobility actually occurs when an employee moves from one position to another position of greater growth potential, such as from clerical to technical or technical to professional. Placement is accomplished through competitive merit staffing procedures.

B. Underdeveloped employees are employees who do not have the education, training, and experience to qualify them for positions offering greater growth. They do, however, have the potential, through intensive training and work experience, to perform at a higher level.

C. Trainee Position is the position an employee is placed in after initial selection into the Upward Mobility Program. The employee will receive appropriate training and developmental experiences to qualify for placement in the target position.

D. Target Position is the specific position for which a competitively selected employee is being trained and will be placed in upon successful completion of the training period.

3.8 Eligibility for Upward Mobility.

A. To be eligible for participation in the Upward Mobility Program, employees must have 1 year of continuous employment with the Department of the Interior and:

(1) Occupy positions, at grades GS-1 through GS-9, which do not enable them to realize their full work potential or do not provide promotion potential beyond their current grade level.

(2) Serve under any of the following types of appointments: career, career-conditional, excepted career, or excepted career-conditional.

(3) Have a current performance rating of fully successful or higher.

B. An employee who needs training to meet the qualification standards of the target position may apply for reassignment or change to a lower grade into the trainee position. The employee cannot be promoted into the trainee position. If a change to lower grade is implemented, the trainee is entitled to pay retention (5 CFR 536.104(a)(6)).

3.9 Determining Upward Mobility Positions.

A. When positions become vacant, managers should review them to determine if Upward Mobility is an appropriate recruitment alternative. If appropriate, management should work in cooperation with their servicing personnel office in establishing and recruiting for the position.

B. The grade level of the trainee position will be established at the GS-1 through GS-9 grade level provided for in the classification standard for the target series (e.g., in a two-grade interval series such as budget analyst, trainee positions could be established at the GS-5 grade level.) If necessary, the trainee position may be a technical "bridge position" into an administrative or professional series. For example, a trainee position of Personnel Assistant, GS-203-5, could be established with a target position of Personnel Management Specialist, GS-201-5.

C. The target position may be the same grade as the trainee position or one grade level higher. The full performance level of the position may be higher than that of the target position.

D. Upward Mobility announcements must contain: a statement identifying the position as an Upward Mobility opportunity; title, series, and grade of the target position and any further promotion potential; duties of the target position; eligibility requirements/selection criteria; type and length of training (if determined); and how and where to apply.

E. Assessment of candidates for developmental positions is based on the candidates' potential to successfully acquire and use skills and knowledge needed to perform the duties of the target position. Evaluation criteria must consist of valid and job-related elements determined via job analysis. An appraisal form must be used which shows transferability of related knowledge, skills and abilities to the target position.

3.10 Upward Mobility Training.

A. The principal tool used as the basis for the program is the Department of the Interior Upward Mobility Training Agreement (see 370 DM 380). The training agreement makes it possible to substitute intensive specialized training for a portion of the normal experience requirements and permits placement into the target occupational series during the training program. The training agreement cannot substitute for positive education requirements. Training should be designed to supplement any existing qualifications so that the trainee will be able to fully perform the duties of the target position.

B. The length of the training period depends upon the grade level of the target position, requirements of the qualification standard, and the existing qualifications of the person selected. The Training Agreement permits substitution of Upward Mobility training for general or specialized experience requirements of the target position at the rate of 1 month of training for 2 months of experience. Training may not exceed 18 months.

C. The general terms of a training plan must be outlined in the vacancy announcement. Once a person has been selected, a specific training plan must be developed with input from the employee, supervisor, and personnel office. The plan must be in
writing and address the individual training and development needs of the trainee. The plan should include the length of training, specific training courses, and developmental activities necessary to enter the target position, and include:

(1) On-the-job Training. Trainees should be assigned productive, progressively more responsible assignments according to their ability. Major assignments must be specified showing the approximate length of time and the office in which they will be performed.

(2) Formal Training. Trainees may participate in training courses conducted by Government or non-Government sources. Title, vendor, date, and duration must be specified.

(3) Self-development. The program may include reading of materials related to the career field. Trainees may participate in professional societies and attend local institutions on their own.

D. Formal Counseling Sessions should be held between the supervisor and the trainee on a quarterly basis to review progress. Modifications to the training plan may be made at this time. Counseling sessions may be documented and used for the final evaluation. Written Evaluations are required quarterly and may be completed in conjunction with the counseling sessions. At the end of the training program, a final evaluation must include a statement as to whether the trainee has successfully completed the program and is able to assume the duties of the target position. If the trainee has successfully completed the program, the supervisor should reassign or promote the employee to the target position.

E. Unsatisfactory Performance. If, during the training period, the trainee fails to meet the performance requirements equivalent to or higher than a fully successful level and does not complete the training and developmental activities, the trainee will be reassigned to another position commensurate with his/her/their experience and grade level.

3.11 Documentation.

A. Upward Mobility vacancies must follow merit promotion procedures and documentation requirements.

B. The Individual Development Plan, evaluations, and other pertinent documentation should be retained for 2 years after completion of the program. A copy of the agreement and the final evaluation are made a permanent part of the employee's Official Personnel Folder.

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022