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Tomorrow’s Workforce

An Action Plan for State and Local Government

The public sector is struggling to build a future workforce, and IT departments are not immune to these challenges. The Center for Digital Government in collaboration with IBM and NASPE recently reported on a survey of state and local government IT leaders, where an overwhelming 94% of respondents said they are experiencing challenges in recruiting qualified technologists to fill open positions, particularly in cybersecurity and data analytics roles.

The pandemic presented new challenges for employers as workers reassessed priorities and now expect increased flexibility in where and how they work — a benefit governments may or may not be able to offer. At the same time, inflation is driving demand for higher salaries, an area where government almost always loses out to the private sector. But the truth of it is that government has faced an impending talent shortage for some time, largely due to changing demographics. Younger workers are less likely to spend their career in one place, making the promise of a pension less valuable. Government is also not known for its use of cutting-edge tools — a big deterrent for skilled tech workers looking for their next gig.

But challenges always come with opportunities. State and local government IT departments can attract and retain talented employees and develop a skilled workforce, but they must transform their recruitment and hiring strategies to be successful. They must also rethink how they brand themselves to an incoming generation of workers.

Best practices are emerging. Through interviews with state and local CIOs as well as state HR executives across the country, we captured examples of innovative approaches. Optimizing and accelerating the hiring process was a highly recognized imperative, as was the need to embrace flexible work environments. Others noted their work in revisiting degree requirements for certain roles, reworking job descriptions, embracing non-traditional candidates and nurturing high-potential internal talent. Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in talent strategies and going beyond race and gender when thinking about diversity is also a goal of leading agencies. Finally, many interviewees noted that governments must do a better job of telling a compelling story about their brand. “To me, it’s important to instill the why — the why behind what we do,” says Shawnzia Thomas, CIO for the state of Georgia. “We’re constantly talking to our staff about the value we bring to our constituents, how many lives we’re impacting and how we’re impacting those lives. When you have a heart to serve, the public sector is where you need to be.”

Read this report and find out more about these strategies and tactics in the pages that follow and how your peers are finding success in overcoming challenges you all share as well as their perspectives on leadership in building tomorrow’s workforce in government.

For any questions or requests contact your IBM Representative today.

Restlessly reinventing since 1911, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has decades of experience strategically partnering with leading government organizations all over the globe, to help them build innovative technology solutions that accelerate the digital transformation of government.