States Experience IT Talent Crunch, Too

Susan Hall

Tight budgets and an aging work force are putting state government IT departments in a bind, according to a survey by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

 

Officials in 40 states, the District of Columbia and one U.S. territory responded to the online survey. Redmond Developer News quotes Chad Grant, NASCIO policy analyst and author of the study, saying:

The inevitable wave of baby boomers that will leave the state work force in the next five years has only compounded the challenges that exist for recruitment and retention of highly qualified IT personnel. ...
State layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes and lack of salary increases (have) exacerbated this situation.

The survey, which follows up on a similar one done in 2007, suggests the brunt of the situation has yet to play out because many older workers have put off retirement due to the down economy.

 

But that's just part of the problem. Like the federal government, states have trouble attracting and retaining younger workers. And states are feeling acutely the skills shortages that private companies, too, are experiencing. As govinfosecurity.com points out, 52.4 percent of respondents cited difficulty in hiring security personnel. Other hard-to-find skills: project management, architecture, application and mobile application development and support, and analysis and design. In an interview on Federal News Radio, Grant said one way states have responded to the challenges are to improve training so workers' capabilities span multiple areas.

 

Other highlights:

  • Nearly two-thirds of state CIOs anticipate having to reduce staff. The average anticipated staff reduction was 10 percent.
  • Hiring freezes and elimination of vacant positions was cited as the biggest challenge.
  • Nearly a quarter of them predict that between 21 and 30 percent of state IT employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. An additional 29 percent put that number at between 31 and 50 percent.
  • Nearly 79 percent said that salary rates and pay-grade structures are an obstacle to attracting and retaining skilled IT staff.
  • Slightly more than half of the respondents continue to have difficulty recruiting new employees, even in a sluggish economy.
  • About 47 percent reported that a shortage of qualified IT candidates would hinder the state's ability to achieve its strategic IT initiatives.
  • Despite these issues, 76 percent of respondents reported that their state does not perform an IT work force assessment.

 


In the federal government, nearly half the work force will be of retirement age by 2015, reports Federal News Radio. Recent reports have looked not only at which workers leave, but also how it can better retain workers.



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