The Office of Personnel Management will start allowing federal workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields to take time off to volunteer in STEM-related activities outside of work.
In a letter to chief human capital officers, OPM Director John Berry wrote STEM is a functional area included in the agency’s skills gap closure initiative, part of the federal government’s cross agency priority goals.
OPM, the Office of Science Technology and Policy and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council are jointly working on a strategy to address STEM skill gaps in the federal workforce, Berry wrote.
In February, OPM announced an initiative calling on federal employees to support a Defense Department STEM program, where students receive information on federal careers and internships in STEM fields.
Agencies are directed to review how they can arrange alternative work schedules for STEM workers to perform volunteer service.
Annual leave, leave without pay, credit hours under flexible work schedules, compensatory time off and limited amount of excused absence are potential options for STEM workers, according to Berry.