Survey of skills and competencies to assist in developing a national training strategy for National Scenic and Historic Trails
Purpose of Assessment: Develop Information for a National Training Strategy
Federal and organizational leaders are developing a national training strategy for National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHT). Their goal is to preserve skills that have been developed over decades as well as teaching the newest technology. Top quality and readily accessible training will help all of us perform to the best of our abilities.
This report presents the survey findings from 232 respondents who ranked 77 trails tasks by importance, time spent, and their skill levels. These federal, state, and organizational members also provided valuable information on the types of training delivery methods they prefer, and how they would like to be notified of training opportunities in future.
Among the most important findings are:
A significant legacy of this project is a comprehensive listing 244 tasks to provide a base line for developing competencies, performance standards, position descriptions, job announcements, and project management tasks. This dynamic, living document will serve both agency and organizations supporting NSHT. Future training assessments and other surveys should use this listing to create comparative data and a more efficient and effective analysis of what we all do to support these trails.
One of the surprising findings was the low ratings for importance, frequency, and skill level for most of the 77 tasks when compared to performance standards. For both importance and their skill levels, respondents gave low ratings compared to what we have found in other agency needs assessment. Possible explanations are that staff and volunteers are spread too thinly to focus on NSHT tasks, are not aware of performance standards, or generally under value the importance of some tasks to providing quality trail experiences. The challenge is to provide outreach, training, resources, tools, better policy, and effective performance guidelines as corrective actions.
A team convened June 3-4, 2008 to develop a training strategy based on the gaps between available training and desired skill needs as identified in the report. The team identified high priority training, workshops, and reference materials relevant to meet these knowledge and skill gaps for various tasks in NSHT arena. See the Skills and Competencies list which provides Web pages for the 12 key topics including a catalogue of skills, plus links to resources, publications, and training providers.
In summary, the more we know about our needs for training, education, and other skill improvement programs, the better we can provide training and resources to narrow or eliminate the gaps in existing performance compared to desired performance. We will ultimately benefit trail users, the public at large, and the future generations who have yet to experience and appreciate these congressionally designated jewels.
We included a question on the types of issues that are encountered by the respondents. When developing future training, a strategy team should consider these general topics to get a sense of major problem areas. On issues they encounter in their trails work, there is a fairly even split between the following issues (more than one issue could be selected):
By comparison, only 32 percent feel that overuse of trail was an issue. When asked what would do the most to improve their ability to do their work, 34 percent selected more funding and 19 percent selected more people. They seem to spend little time on the trails, yet they need more financial resources to leverage their capability to manage NSHTs.
This assessment was guided by the Federal Interagency Council on Trails pursuant to the National Trails System Act, the National Trails System Memorandum of Understanding, and Executive Order 13195. The federal trails and organization leaders provided excellent insight to the analysis and this report. We would like to thank the core team members listed in Appendix H and peer reviewers for their hard work and thorough review of various drafts of the task analysis and survey instrument. We would also like to express our appreciation to Elvin Clapp and Genie Ramsden of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as primary authors of the task analysis, survey forms, data analysis, and report preparation. Finally, we would like to thank Deb Salt of BLM for her leadership and additional financial support of the training needs assessment and strategy development.
Download the Final Report (pdf 1.0 mb)