NYC Addresses Challenges in Luring Younger Government Workers

The city’s IT and telecommunications department has come up with a solution to a problem plaguing many.

Many state and local technology departments face a two-headed staffing dilemma. While one generation of employees is either struggling to keep up with current technology or retiring, IT departments are still figuring out the best way to draw a younger, tech-savvy demographic. But now New York City’s Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) has devised a concrete plan: establishing a career development path for its current employees while going into overdrive to find new blood.

Anne Roest, commissioner of the department and city chief information officer, said dealing with an aging workforce is a bigger problem for the government than for the private sector. “We have a workforce that’s aging, and we will lose many people over the next few years, so we’ve got to bring a new generation up to take the place of the massive number of people that we’re going to lose in the next few years,” she explained to Government Technology.

With technology evolving at a faster pace than what the government can keep up with, adaptation has been challenging. New York City’s remedy, Roest says, is an environment that encourages “[learning] the new skills and move forward with the changing technology.”

Think of it as an IT boot camp where new talent will be expected to learn rapidly, because, as Roest noted to Government Technology, the cloud and the Internet of Things are examples of technologies that public-sector workers must be comfortable using.

So what is New York City’s DoITT doing to put its plan in place? According to Roest, it involves more specific outreach that incorporates the schools and local universities they normally collaborate with, as well as local organizations and tech hubs.

“We’re opening up more opportunities for young technologists to come in and work with the city and [do] internships and fellowships and then giving them a path, and an avenue and an understanding of how to get a good city job,” she said.

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Nov 17 2015