Continuous Learning

231 FW 1
FWM Number
231 FW 1, 5/31/94, and Memorandum, 2/20/98, "Continuous Learning Policy"
Originating Office
Division of Training (NCTC)

1.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter describes Fish and Wildlife Service policy on continuous learning.   As used in this chapter, the terms we, our, and us mean Fish and Wildlife Service.

1.2 To whom does this chapter apply?  This chapter applies to all Service employees.

1.3 What is the authority for this chapter?  

A.  5 U.S.C. 41.

B. 16 U.S.C. 742f, National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act of 1998, provides guidance on training volunteers.

CExecutive Order 11348 (as amended by Executive Order 12107) authorizes employee training.  

D.  Executive Order 13111 encourages the use of technology to improve training opportunities for Federal employees.  

E.  Department of the Interior Human Resources Management Handbook provides guidance on training within the Department.
1.4 Why does the Service support continuous learning?  Continuous learning is among our highest priorities. We recognize that our employees are our most important assets and that a well-trained workforce that continues to develop and learn provides us greater efficiency and effectiveness in addressing our resource conservation mission.  Continuous learning enhances the ability of employees to identify, adapt, and respond to the changing needs of the Service.

1.5 What does continuous learning do?  Because we are a continuous learning organization, we will be better equipped to accomplish our mission.  Continuous learning contributes directly to performance effectiveness, employee morale, and efficiency by:

A. Meeting mandatory training needs in such areas as, law enforcement, fire, safety, ethics, equal employment opportunity, and supervision.

B. Providing employees with the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary for their current position to accommodate changing mission and policies, and state-of-the-art advances in occupational specialties, technology, and equipment.
C. Developing skills not readily available through recruitment.
D. Meeting our future staffing requirements by maximizing employees’ potential for mission accomplishment.  

1.6 Who is responsible for continuous learning?

A. The Director is responsible for fostering a continuous learning environment that supports the Department’s Strategic Human Capital Management Plan and its goal of having the right people in the right place at the right time.

B. The Assistant Director - External Affairs provides line supervision for the activities of the National Conservation Training Center.

C.  The NCTC Oversight Committee reviews and determines overall direction in both training and education outreach programs, recommends long-term budget levels, and approves priorities for student and organizational utilization of the Center.

D. The Director, National Conservation Training Center is responsible for administering the Service's continuous learning program to address performance improvement and mission accomplishment. The NCTC:

(1) Interprets and evaluates training policy and procedures.

(2) Analyzes needs and plans, and develops, coordinates, conducts, and evaluates training programs and related activities.

(3) Works closely with the Directorate, the NCTC Oversight Committee, and the Deputies Team to provide advice and assistance to management on continuous learning matters.

(4) Is the repository for training records and prepares reports to management on training activities pursuant to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and to address the measures identified in the DOI Strategic Human Capital Management Plan.

(5) Operates the Service’s Conservation Library.

(6) Serves as liaison with Department of the Interior (DOI) and Office of Personnel Management on training matters.

(7) Develops and executes knowledge management strategies that support continuous learning and mission accomplishment.

(8) Builds a relationship with the Regional Training Coordinators to provide support and foster exchange of information.

E. The Chief, Division of Human Resources will ensure that continuous learning programs comply with EEO guidelines.

F. Assistant and Regional Directors support the Director’s continuous learning strategy and the training of employees in conformance with Departmental and Service policy, guidelines, and directives.  

G. The Deputies Team reviews and recommends Service career development policy and guidance; identifies problems and opportunities for employee development and retention; and recommends training needs/opportunities to the NCTC Oversight Committee.

H. Regional Training Coordinators serve the Regional Directors by providing advice, recommending training, identifying training needs; organizing Region-specific training; and coordinating training efforts with NCTC in the accomplishment of continuous learning goals and objectives.

I. Supervisors and Managers. Each supervisor and manager is responsible for assuring that employees are properly trained to perform their jobs satisfactorily, for advising employees about their career potential, and for encouraging and providing opportunities for career development. Supervisors and managers are accountable for implementing the continuous learning policy at the employee level.  It is management's responsibility to counsel employees on skill gaps related to their current job, as well as career objectives and development for future positions.  The discussion on continuous learning needs and activities should occur no later than 60 days into the performance year and be documented and approved on the employee’s Individual Development Plan (IDP) (FWS Form 3-2020B).  Followup discussions between the employee and the supervisor should occur during the performance reviews and the final performance evaluation. See 231 FW 2 regarding the mandatory requirement for IDPs.

J. Employees are responsible for their career development, for performing the official duties and tasks of their position, and for seeking out continuous learning opportunities to continually improve performance and for long-term career development.

1.7 What terms do I need to know?  
A.  Continuous learning. Includes a full range of opportunities to meet organizational and employee development needs such as formal classroom training; distance learning via the web, correspondence courses, video tapes, or television; conferences; workshops; on-the-job training; detail assignments; rotational assignments and cross training; coaching and mentoring; and college courses.

B.  Training.  Process of providing a course or curriculum of instruction in fields related to the mission of the Service in order to increase the knowledge, proficiencies, abilities, skills, and qualifications of the employee in the performance of official duties.

C. Official Duties.  The tasks and responsibilities that make up the work performed by an employee.

D. Training Needs.  Knowledge, skills, or abilities required to perform the job, or a discrepancy between the performance standards and the performance of the employee.

1.8 How much training should employees receive?

A. Supervisors/managers will provide all permanent full-time employees appropriate continuous learning opportunities, with a minimum goal of 40 hours annually.  Some employees may exceed 40 hours of training annually to meet mandatory training requirements; however, this does not preclude additional opportunities for continuous learning.

B.  Supervisors should provide training for temporary employees, volunteers, and intermittent and seasonal employees based upon the immediate skills needed to conduct their assigned responsibilities.

1.9 Where can I find out what training is available?  The National Conservation Training Center provides a variety of training opportunities.  A Catalog of Training is available online.

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