On June 8, the Defense Department marked a new milestone in its commitment to modernizing the acquisition workforce with the launch of the Defense Civilian Training Corps. This pioneering initiative aims to prepare competitively selected students for public service in vital DOD acquisition-related occupations and improve talent readiness in DOD critical skill areas. The first cohort will begin in August 2023, and will comprise approximately 80 students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Purdue University, the University of Arizona and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Pursuant to Congressional authorization and funding, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment is piloting the scholarship-for-service program, in which students will participate in an experiential and multi-disciplinary learning curriculum, paid internships and DOD challenge projects. Additionally, students will gain the benefits of accelerated security clearance processing and direct hire employment within the Defense Department upon graduation. The universities are currently evaluating student applications in a rigorous, highly competitive process.
Tanya Skeen, acting assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, remarked, “DCTC will complement other workforce initiatives, while finding and developing the acquisition talent pipeline that is mission-driven on Day One to increase the DOD’s lethality, readiness and modernization as an enduring advantage over U.S. competitors.”
The DCTC Scholar experience uses three key elements to educate and attract the next generation of acquisition professionals that will deliver game-changing capabilities to our military. In the classroom, students with majors in business, finance, computer science, engineering and public policy, will engage in active learning about public service within the DOD, as well as digital literacy, innovation, and how they will contribute individually and as teams within the defense acquisition system. This learning will be applied to real-world problems through case studies and capstone projects, thereby contributing to the DOD’s capability advancements before the students graduate. During paid summer internships at DOD participating organizations, students will gain hands-on experience to tackle complex challenges and drive innovation. Upon graduation, DOD will use direct hire authorities to quickly onboard students as new hires that are ready with targeted education and experience and instilled with a passion and understanding of the military mission to make an immediate impact.
Mark Krzysko, principal deputy director of enterprise information in the acquisition data and analytics organization, observed “The DOD’s investment in DCTC reflects its commitment to building a modern, agile and highly skilled civilian acquisition workforce to shape the future of national security and ensure the DOD remains at the forefront of technological advancement and innovation.”
To mark the launch of DCTC, an event was held at the Pentagon with over 50 senior DOD and university officials in attendance. Dr. Larry Head, professor of systems and industrial engineering at the University of Arizona expressed great enthusiasm for the partnership, “At UA we have seen an impressive level of student interest in DCTC and have difficult choices to make as we evaluate applications. We look forward to enrolling our DCTC Scholars in courses that offer experiential learning across disciplines to build a cohort of diverse students and prepare them for a fulfilling public service career after graduation, without the burden of college debt.”
In addition to DCTC, the Defense Department has several programs in place to recruit the best and the brightest of American college students to a career in civilian service, such as the Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship Program and DOD cyber scholarship Program to recruit and develop exceptional STEM and cyber civilian talent.
DCTC scholars will have an exciting opportunity to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Their diverse talent and wide array of backgrounds will be the foundation of a modern and mission-driven workforce that creatively, collaboratively and innovatively delivers and sustains secure, resilient and often game-changing capabilities to the warfighter and our international partners.