IT worker of the future
A public sector perspective
Senior public sector technology workers are leaving agencies en masse, and younger employees with new skills are taking their places. This changing landscape is forcing technology leaders to rethink their approach to talent management. Everything is on the table – from the types of skills new workers must have to new service delivery and staffing models.
Public sector leaders who are moving forward with transformative technologies are also turning their attention to the workforce that will be expected to deliver value from these investments. Hiring the right talent with the right skill sets presents a mix of big opportunities and long-simmering challenges.
Some Chief Information Officers (CIOs) continue to worry about the large number of retirement-eligible employees who may leave public service and take their skills and institutional knowledge with them. Other CIOs are thinking about the issue differently, asking a new kind of question: What if success depends less on replacing all that retiring talent and more on rethinking what kind of talent is actually required and how to get that talent exactly when it’s needed?
Many fronts in the war for talent
CIOs need to continue to be creative to compete with private sector compensation packages and job flexibility. Some are offering externships and reverse mentoring. Others are creating more opportunities for virtual work. Still others are changing their hiring practices and associated policies to be more agile.
New technologies also provide a path for exploring innovative, flexible workforce models, even as the overall IT personnel model in the public sector may struggle to catch up. Just as cloud services introduced a model for renting processing capacity, so too are agencies looking at ways to access on-demand IT talent.
- Experiment in new territory. Choose an area that is not currently mission critical and experiment with new workforce practices.
- Mix it up. Examine how you are deploying your people. Can the jobs become more diverse? Can you cross-train? Can you rotate people into different positions for short periods of time? Look for ways to mix up responsibilities that may open the door to new capabilities and levels of creativity.
- Take a portfolio approach. Start managing your IT workforce like your IT portfolio. Just as you would invest in new technologies, invest in your people by offering development and career advancement opportunities. Align the workforce to technology investments now as well into the future.
- Engage in the policy discussion. In the public sector, many hiring processes are dictated by outdated laws and policies – which aren’t going to change until policymakers are educated on the widening gulf between what public sector IT leaders need from their workforce and what they’re allowed to do.