KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – The 81st Training Group initiated the Direct to Duty Technical Training program earlier this year to test the attainability of training Airmen at their assigned base, skipping the costly and timely process of technical training school.
The trial tested the possibility of sending Airmen from basic military training straight to their assigned base. As a result of the program’s success, the Personnel Apprentice Course leadership implemented the program for their class of prior-service students.
“We were hoping to speed up the training for students and save valuable resources,” said Jennifer DesJardin, 335th Training Squadron PAC instructor supervisor. “Eliminating the need for travel saves time and money and allows students to stay with their families.”
The students cross-trained to become personnel apprentices, a job which includes analyzing Air Force policy and providing recommendations to leadership and Airmen on benefits, entitlements, career progression, retention and relocation programs. The class of nine students were made up of active duty Airmen, guardsmen and reservists. Three members of the class initially served in other military branches.
Being able to attend the class online allowed Staff Sgt. Ambreh Miranda, 129th Civil Engineering Squadron Moffett Federal Airfield Mountain View, California, customer support administrator, was able to care for her children, who were completing school virtually due to COVID-19.
“It was very convenient for me to balance my work and family life,” Miranda said. “Caring for my children in the morning before taking the course at work gave me the opportunity to focus on my training while also caring for my family.”
Eliminating travel and quarantine, the class completed the course in four weeks, compared to the projected eight weeks it usually takes, and saved approximately a total of $75,000.
During COVID-19, the course takes a projected eight weeks to complete due to quarantine and travel. However, transforming with Airman-centric instruction at the speed of learning has allowed the class to finish in four weeks and overall save approximately $75,000.
“The situation was a win-win all around,” DesJardin said. “We not only were efficient but were also able to graduate the students during Hurricane Zeta, while we had no power.”
Even though the class was just a test run, the instructors hope this can eventually become the normal for their prior-service students.
“The virtual class has allowed us to be flexible,” said Tech. Sgt. Kathy Pool, 335th TRS PAC instructor. “The students are able to concentrate on their families while also accomplishing the mission.”