ABOUT THE COMPETITION
NSF has a hypothesis.
Technology is changing the way we do our work, and the work itself. To keep up, the National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to invest in its most critical resource – the workforce. And it's not just NSF. The need for an adaptable and ready workforce extends to other Federal agencies and beyond. No industry will be immune to the way advances in technology change the nature of work. As a pressing example, we are facing critical gaps in matching people with data science and cybersecurity skills with the right mission needs. NSF believes that, along with other agencies and organizations, the best way to maintain a workforce ready to carry out its mission is to encourage a culture of continuous learning, and to empower each person to refresh and modernize their skills toward future work. We want to spark the thinking of the best and brightest to co-create a solution that can enable individual skill-matching and tailored training for the Workforce for the 21st Century.
NSF has a vision.
Imagine a mechanism that rapidly enables an individual to match their skills and interests to current and future work opportunities, leveraging advanced technologies which incorporate learning and development needs (traditional, non-traditional, and experiential), and that provides direct access to options for obtaining the relevant expertise to ready the individual for the chosen work.
The future world of work may not be recognizable yet, however a ready workforce will remain critical for both economic prosperity and mission accomplishment. Employers must start now to instill a culture of continuous learning in its most critical resource, the workforce. To do this, we must think creatively about broadening the pool of available candidates by lowering the barriers for access to opportunities. This journey begins with a mechanism that enables individuals to self-select and prepare for chosen work that complements their skills and interests. The future of work is one of continuous change, which depends on a culture of continuous learning.
This Career Compass Challenge is part of an effort to modernize the American workforce, but in order to do that we are focusing on the National Science Foundation as a model. This Challenge will address the changing nature of work, and the pace of change to the types of work, needed to carry out essential missions for the American people and create the Workforce for the 21st Century, starting with NSF. At the conclusion of this Challenge, NSF hopes to have created a "market" for technology solutions that will help employees plot a path for changing careers or identify how to move forward in their current career path, while also facilitating continuous reskilling.
Moreover, the Career Compass Challenge will help inform further collaborative, cross-sector innovation that Federal agencies are pursuing more broadly, such as through the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research—or GEAR—Center. The GEAR Center will facilitate applied research to tackle management challenges at the Executive Branch enterprise level, confronting shared issues like workforce reskilling that cut across Federal agencies and other stakeholders. To the extent that this Career Compass Challenge is intended to explore creating a culture of a continuously ready workforce, on a small scale for NSF – by leveraging thought leaders across the American public, academia and industry – this challenge may be a model for learning how to successfully tackle other broad opportunities through a crowdsourced, test and learn model.
We want to hear from you!
Let’s explore innovative ways to expose opportunities for NSF employees, within NSF, across Federal Agencies, and even beyond the Government. Let's be creative about leveraging training methods that are broadly accessible and that empower each person to ready themselves to take advantage of available opportunities.
Can you help us figure out a way to meet the workforce “where they are at”? Can you propose a solution available to anyone, at any time, from any device, in any location, and from any economic or educational background? Think NSF first, and then think beyond. This challenge is broadly applicable and the outcomes should be scalable.
This is a two-part challenge. Solvers have the option to participate in Part 1, Part 2, or both parts of the Challenge. Part 1 solicits concept white papers, and winning submissions will then be posted for Part 2. Part 2 participants are encouraged to adopt Part 1 concepts to build upon and/or may introduce new concepts upon which to develop working prototypes. While up to five submissions may be chosen as prize winners in Part 1, only one successful prototype will be selected to win the Part 2 prize.
The different types of roles and opportunities the Government offers the Federal workforce are more diverse than they have ever been, and the way federal staff work is changing. Federal employees no longer stay on a linear career path in the same field for most of their careers. Instead, many employees are branching out by making lateral moves into different fields. In addition, the pace of changes to the types of work that employees do, largely because of the ever-changing pace of technology, has increased dramatically over the past few years. It is difficult for agencies to identify and provide training for the workforce at the same rate of those changes. And it's likely that the Federal Government is not alone. The winning solution will:
- Describe the proposed solution, explain how it works, and clearly identify how it will solve the problems articulated in the challenge description
- Address individuals as the end user for the solution, starting with NSF employees
- Explain the competitive advantage of the approach
- Include a comprehensive workflow for the proposed solution
- Provide an example use case ("Part 1") or working prototype ("Part 2")
- Include a visual representation of the solution, such as a drawing, architecture diagram, or framework
Part 1 (November 9, 2018 – February 13, 2019)
In Part 1 of this challenge, solvers are asked to submit a concept white paper that describes a solution to the challenge of continuous workforce reskilling and the desire for increased mobility within and between NSF and other Federal agencies (and perhaps even the private sector), as an example. Solvers are asked to think creatively about methods that go beyond the traditional "career path" thinking and "strategic workforce planning" methodology when exposing future skill needs or opportunities for an individual's consideration when choosing a development path. Solvers are also asked to consider relevant research on adult cognition and reskilling, particularly for those that must "work" and "learn" simultaneously. A panel of judges will evaluate the concept paper submissions, and up to five may be selected as Part 1 prize winners. The winning concepts will then be made available for solvers interested in participating in Part 2 of this challenge.
Part 2 (Timeline is currently being revised)
In Part 2, solvers are encouraged to leverage and build upon winning concepts to develop a working prototype for Government testing and evaluation. Solvers will have approximately one month to register to participate in Part 2 of the challenge, either as individuals or as teams. NSF will host an entrance conference with Part 2 registered solvers to:
- Understand the solver community's ideal needs for data, NSF staff subject matter expertise, etc.
- Set a cadence for regular interaction with the Part 2 solver community for the duration of the Part 2 competition timeframe.
- Answer questions the Part 2 solver community may have related to winning concept papers.
The intent of the Government is to hold webinars and/or teleconferences with all Part 2 potential solvers simultaneously, to the extent that the solvers are interested in participating. All engagement between the Government and the Part 2 solver community will be open to all registered solvers who wish to participate, and any information shared during these times will be made available to all Part 2 registered solvers.
Update (2/4/19): The timeline for judging submissions, as well as the remaining parts of the competition, are being rescheduled. Please check back for updates.
- PART ONE COMPETITION OPENS: November 9, 2018
- PART ONE SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 13, 2019, 8:00 pm ET
- 1st ROUND OF JUDGING (Part One): TBD
- PART ONE WINNERS ANNOUNCED: TBD
Part 2 - These are the original competition dates and are in the process of being updated.
- PART TWO COMPETITION OPENS: February 25, 2019
- PART TWO PARTICIPANTS/AGENCY ENGAGEMENT BEGINS: April 1, 2019
- PART TWO SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 28, 2019, 11:59 pm ET
- 2nd ROUND OF JUDGING (Part Two): July 1 – 31, 2019
- PART TWO WINNER ANNOUNCED: August 16, 2019
Federal Agency Partners
Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from multiple agencies, that also participate on the President's Management Council.