White House looks to add 500 AI experts to federal workforce by 2025

President Joe Biden is calling for an AI talent surge across the federal government. By the numbers, prospective hires are showing interest in these jobs.

President Joe Biden is calling for an AI talent surge across the federal government. And by the numbers, prospective hires are showing interest in the jobs agencies are trying to fill.

New data from the White House shows applications for AI and AI-enabling roles across the federal government have more than doubled between January and March 2024, compared to the same period in recent years.

A White House-led, interagency AI and Tech Talent Task Force, in a report released Monday, said agencies have hired over 150 AI experts, and are on track to hire hundreds more by the end of this summer.

The task force said 94 AI hires are expected to join government service through tech talent programs — including the U.S. Digital Corps, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, and the U.S. Digital Service — by this summer.

“The message is clear: the public is ready and motivated to join the federal government to work on AI priorities,” the task force wrote in its report.

The report shows agencies are expected to bring on at least 500 AI hires between now and the end of fiscal 2025. That doesn’t include the 2,500 AI hires the Defense Department is looking to make this year, and the more than 9,000 new hires it plans on making next year.

Since Biden’s executive order on AI in government last fall, over 15 agencies have onboarded at least one new AI or AI-enabling employee.

“AI talent joining the government will be — and have already started — delivering on our AI agenda,” the task force wrote. “These new federal employees have written policy for the safe and trustworthy use of AI in government, and they are informing efforts to use AI to improve electrical grid resilience and to expedite permitting. They will be ensuring powerful AI models are safe for the public and working with our international partners to align our AI efforts across the world.”

Federal, state and local government agencies, since last year, have held several “Tech to Gov” virtual hiring fairs, with the goal of getting private-sector tech workers interested in public-service careers.

After one of these hiring fairs last fall, 32 federal agencies made about 100 new hires. More than 4,500 prospective applicants participated in the virtual job fair.

Agencies held another Tech to Gov job fair on April 18, with a focus on hiring AI experts. About 800 prospective applicants signed up for the job fair.

“Tech to Gov events enable agencies to take advantage of collective recruitment and branding power to hire more effectively, efficiently, and from a higher quality technical talent pool,” the task force wrote.

The Office of Personnel Management also released a slew of new policies for agencies to follow when hiring AI professionals. Among the documents, OPM released new skill-based hiring guidance for federal AI positions.

“The model empowers agencies to shift towards a skills-centric paradigm that emphasizes practical skills over educational pedigrees or past titles and prioritizes talent with AI proficiencies tailored to organizational objectives,” OPM wrote. “For new or rapidly evolving fields, such as those associated with AI, data, and technology, it is crucial that agencies adopt this skills-based hiring approach.

The Biden administration on Monday also announced plans to shift the federal government’s primary IT job series — about 100,000 total jobs —away from relying on college degree requirements to “skills-based hiring” over the next year.

OPM’s guidance also includes a competency model to help agency human resources offices identify qualified candidates for AI positions. OPM has identified more than 40 general competencies and 14 technical competencies that are important to perform AI work.

In addition, OPM also released guidance on how agencies should classify federal AI positions, and best practices to recruit, hire and retain AI experts. OPM finds AI work covers nearly 30 federal occupational series.

OPM is also giving federal employees guidance on how to use generative AI in the workplace, and what to avoid when using this emerging technology.

The White House AI task force, in a pulse survey of more than 160 federal employees at 36 agencies, found that more than half of the respondents said they did not have access to, or were not aware of, generative AI tools for use at their agencies.

About half of respondents also said they did not have access to the data sets, software, or resources needed to build, test or audit AI, and that there was no clear process for requesting those resources.

The White House’s U.S. Digital Service, in particular, has seen a surge in job applications. The AI task force’s report finds that USDS has seen a more than 2,000% increase in job applications for AI-related positions.

USDS Director Mina Hsing told prospective hires at the April 18 Tech to Gov hiring fair that a job in public-sector IT gives tech workers a unique opportunity to tackle projects that impact millions of Americans.

“I can sincerely say that working in the federal government here is one of the most challenging, but incredibly rewarding and fun things that I have ever done,” Hsing said. “It is just an incredible opportunity to serve your country, but also to do work that really matters and is incredibly important for people, while also bringing your rare set of skills to an environment that desperately needs them.”

USDS, over the past 10 years, has worked with about 30 agencies on hundreds of projects.

Ben Buchanan, White House special advisor for AI, said Biden made the federal workforce a particular focus in his recent AI executive order.

“When the president signed that executive order, one of the things he asked the most about as he was going through it was its provisions about talent, and making sure that we could get the people into the federal government to do this work,” Buchanan said.

The Department of Homeland Security is looking to replicate the U.S. Digital Service model. DHS recently stood up an AI Corps, and is looking to bring on 50 AI experts who will help lead AI projects across the department and its component agencies.

Christopher Kraft, deputy chief technology officer for emerging technology and AI, said DHS is giving its workforce the opportunity to experiment with AI tools, including generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

“It’s really going to help DHS continue to evolve and deliver leading-edge artificial intelligence solutions. And this is where we need experts like many of you to help us and come join our team,” Kraft said.

Robin Carnahan, the administrator of the General Services Administration, said AI will help agencies deliver public-facing benefits and services more quickly. But first, agencies need the right talent to get this work done.

“We need your talent. We need your innovative ideas, whether it’s AI automation that simplifies repetitive tasks and processes, better design and security, or better integration with legacy systems. We need folks just like you to make sure government effectively delivers for our people,” she said.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By: Derace Lauderdale

By 2025, there will be 100 million AI workers globally in the industry.

Source: thesocialshepherd

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