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Navigating the AI Workforce: Insights into OPM’s New Skill Set Requirements

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Latest News

In July 2023, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) identified 57 skills and competencies for federal agencies to use as guidelines in hiring artificial intelligence (AI) roles. The need for these specific skills was part of President Biden’s Executive Order in October 2023, which placed an emphasis on federal AI hiring and included plans for “A national surge in AI talent in the Federal Government.”

These 57 core skills are broken into two categories: General Competencies and Technical Competencies. On the surface, these hard and soft skills provide significant advantages in building a well-rounded and capable AI workforce; however, the OPM’s recruiting framework presents some pitfalls that could potentially make recruiting a restrictive and burdensome process.

To shed some light on the list, there are a few obvious skills and some that are a little more out of the box. The “General Competencies” list includes common soft skills such as attention to detail, interpersonal skills, and creative thinking. Other skills are more specific, such as political savvy, “socio-technical” competence, and contracting/procurement. Interestingly enough, the “Technical Competencies” list is much shorter, with 14 skills, including data engineering, application development, and statistics.

Some of the positive attributes included in this list of AI competencies are:  

      Helps in attracting and retaining top AI talent by streamlining the recruitment process.

      Promotes standardization and consistency of AI skills across federal agencies.

      Streamlines training and professional development programs for new and existing employees.

Some of the criticism of the list include:

      Risk of creating a workforce that is too narrowly focused and may limit the ability to adapt to unknown challenges.

      Exclusion of diverse candidates with versatile skills.

      Job descriptions and requirements may become overly complex or restrictive because of the limitations of the skills list.

      Challenge of balancing the need for specialized AI technical skills with the broader soft skills.

At S2i2, having public and private sector clients and employees with strong AI skills helps with innovation while enabling the development and implementation of AI based solutions. These are all essential in combating current and future cyber threats​. The skills list helps with basic talent guidelines, but there is so much more to look for in employees in the recruiting process. We pride ourselves on augmenting your staff’s expertise with versatile AI skills that enable federal agencies to address their challenges now and in the future. 

To learn more or become part of the S2i2 team, please contact us at or 844-946-7242. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, too! 

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