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How to attract and retain tech talent in the government sector

Aging workforce, bureaucratic and hierarchical management models and dynamic employee preferences – the shortage of talent and the struggle to attract new talent has never been more difficult for the government sector.

High technical debt leads to skill shortages, especially in legacy support areas, which are unattractive to the new generation of the workforce. The lack of talent pool planning and succession planning is also catching up with many government agencies around the world as the workforce ages. The talented workforce is turning more to the private sector for its attractive salary policies, higher rewards and more attractive benefits.

The war for talent is real and the government sector is struggling to find a skilled workforce that can advance its digital transformation journey. To meet these challenges, governments globally are applying eight strategies to win the talent contest.

  • Accelerate training and development with Academy programs

Governments are striving to upskill and re-skill their public servants not only to embrace new digital tools, but also to support, maintain and use them productively. This means creating academy programs for civil servants with digital and non-digital backgrounds.

For example, initiate internships and apprenticeship programs, succession programs, knowledge transfer programs, a digital academy, among others. At the same time, government CIOs need to consider programs that not only improve the digital skills of their workforce, but also improve the “digital literacy” of citizens.

  • Test different models of mobility and flexible working

One of the key lessons learned from the early days of the pandemic is the need for increased flexibility and mobility in the working environment. Since so many regional factors related to legislation and government structure impact definitions of flexibility, it is difficult to identify a single model that is flexible across borders.

Government CIOs can try models such as shorter work weeks, location-agnostic hybrid workplaces, and more. to identify the best solution.

  • Investing in diversity and inclusion

The government sector is not spared from the push for more diverse, equitable and inclusive environments, governments are stepping up efforts to attract and retain untapped talent.

CIOs can include revising the recruiting and hiring process to eliminate potential biases, creating tailored programs to hire diverse talent, specific mentoring and sponsorship programs, and include hiring goals for diversity – focused on improving the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of the workforce.

  • Revise the employment value proposition for technology

The multigenerational workforce is no longer a phenomenon specific to the private sector. The expectations of this multigenerational and diverse workforce are changing rapidly. To respond to these changes, several government entities are rethinking their employment value proposition, reinforcing the sense of serving society and contributing to a better society.

For example, using EVP to understand employee preference for flexibility and using these metrics to attract and retain more talent.

  • Investing in partnerships and ecosystems

Explore partnerships with private and public entities – educational institutions, ministries, departments, agencies, LGAs and NGOs that can potentially elevate the level and quality of learning. Government CIOs can use these partnerships to create supportive ecosystems that foster knowledge sharing and collaboration.

  • Reform human capital management systems

Government organizations need to modernize their legacy HCM systems to compete with the private sector on talent. For example, reforming the compensation system, reducing complexity, transforming the background investigation process to improve timelines.

Improving the HCM can have a positive impact on the employee experience. It has the potential to enable private partnerships that will later benefit employee learning and development.

  • Changes to job classification and salaries

Salary is one of the main factors of competition between private and public sector roles. The private sector is generally considered to be more remunerative than the latter. However, this is no longer entirely true. In order to attract better talent, it is important that the monetary remuneration is attractive.

It’s not an easy task in the public sector, but those who have been able to work at this level have done so for specialized and rare talent in digital and technology.

  • Join forces and take a whole-of-business approach

As the competition for digital talent rages on, governments realize that “together there is more”. So instead of competing for talent individually, they create enterprise-wide workforce strategies and initiatives to recruit and retain digital/technology professionals for government.

For example, set up a centralized platform to communicate their EVP and connect government recruiters with digital talent – ​​a centralized marketplace.

To prepare for the future of work, government CIOs will need to develop a holistic strategy. A company that maintains a good balance between flexibility, independence, rapid growth and above all – a human-centric approach.

Written by Gabriela Vogel, senior research director at Gartner

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