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Rethinking Hiring and Training in Emergency Management

For emergency management teams around the country, hiring, training, and retaining talent are major priorities. With this in mind, let’s explore these areas more closely.

It’s no secret that, in 2020, our nation’s emergency management teams, at all levels, were strained. From the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed our hospitals to the brink to devastating natural disasters, maintaining, recruiting, and training staff was a challenge. In 2021, the job market has been directly affected by the difficulties employees faced due to those natural disasters, the pandemic, and more. In addition to these outside forces keeping many workers away, many employees have chosen to leave old career paths behind or pursue new education. For emergency management teams around the country, hiring, training, and retaining talent are major priorities. With this in mind, let’s explore these areas more closely. 


Justin Pierce, Emergency Management Director for Los Angeles World Airports at the City of Los Angeles, said in his article, Coffee Shop Thinking: Hiring the Next Emergency Managers, “Hiring the right people is more important than ever before. It’s not easy, like a failed first round pick in the NFL draft, a miss hire can set your organization back months if not years.” And he identified five trends to consider when you’re getting ready to hire. 

  • It’s not “Find and Replace” (Ctrl + H) 
  • Value nontraditional education 
  • Look beyond technical skills 
  • Hire for intangibles 
  • Cast a wider net  

Not every person learns the same so focusing too much on a specific pedigree can limit your candidate pool. In his point, “value nontraditional education,” Pierce goes so far to say, “Look for in-house talent with adjacent skills and the motivated self-taught emergency manager [candidates] who are clawing and scraping their way into the field of their dreams.” Providing training opportunities to in-house talent is one way to reduce hiring gaps and be more confident in your hire. 


Specialized in-house training serves two primary purposes. First, in-house training provides continuity and scalability of courses and materials. Second, in-house training allows for upskilling and reskilling opportunities for staff who would like to transition into more mission-critical roles. 

Emergency management teams can’t all live in one location. Additionally, traveling to in-person trainings can take a toll on workers and budgets. While there are many resources available to learn new skills, they can’t always be personalized to your state, county, or region. Providing in-house training allows you to create training tracks that are as unique as the emergencies you face.  

That personalization also extends to upskilling and reskilling opportunities. Whether you know certain staff could retire in the next few years or you simply want to create a more robust workforce, providing learning paths can support your goals. Many corporations are already shifting to a growth mentality for both entry level staff and those looking to shift their careers. When you provide learning paths, you develop an environment where your best candidates can step into the shoes of skilled transitioning workers (retiring, relocating, promoted, etc.) are the very individuals in your agency.  


Top talent can be a challenge to retain. Providing learning opportunities is one way to prevent high-performing staff from leaving. Those learning opportunities may actually make them the instructor instead of the student of these in-house courses. Tap your talent to contribute their real-life experiences to the future of your agency. Learning from the past is immensely valuable when it comes to the many emergencies your team faces year in and year out. 

Here’s What You Can Do Today 

Not all learning management solutions are created equal. At Blackboard, we not only understand how critical training is to keeping communities and your team safe, we know that digital security is also important. We’re proud to be a FedRAMP certified learning management solution, which means peace of mind for you and your team, no matter where members are logging in from. We also provide solutions that give you the flexibility you need to create content that works best for your team and allows you to scale as the team grows. Don’t waste any more time on training platforms that aren’t right for you, let’s talk today. 

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