Devising new lures

As the shortage of information technology workers continues to grow, governments

are straying further and further from traditional employment policies.

Often, governments that adopt private-sector-style policies — higher

salaries, telecommuting, casual dress, flexible hours — are the ones that

succeed in finding and keeping technical workers.

Here are some state governments' solutions for making public-sector

IT work more appealing.

Nevada is considering a generous incentive plan. Qualified IT job candidates

would be eligible for a $3,000 bonus if they work for the state. State employees

who recommend IT workers would receive a recruitment bonus of up to $500.

IT employees who acquire new skills and use those skills on the job are

eligible for a bonus of 10 percent of their yearly salary.

Oregon has one of the lowest IT turnover rates — less than 5 percent. Officials

say they lose few technical workers partly because many of them were trained

by the state's high-tech training and recruiting cooperative, in which nine

agencies pool resources and expertise to identify and implement retention

strategies. The cooperative began by training state workers to handle Year

2000 problems. Now the cooperative conducts training in systems analysis,

database management and project management. To improve recruiting efforts,

the cooperative hired a full-time high-tech recruiter.

Missouri recently started a student-loan forgiveness program for Missouri

college graduates whose degrees are in specified high-technology areas if

they remain in the state to work. The program does not require the graduates

to work for the state, but officials believe that at least some of those

in the program ultimately will.

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