‘30 percent’ of Illinois state IT workforce eligible to retire

As in many state governments, Illinois faces a challenge in that a large percentage of its workforce could soon retire, which would leave the state to fend for itself as it manages legacy IT systems running on obscure programming languages.

“Thirty percent of my workforce is eligible for retirement soon,” Illinois Chief Information Officer Ron Guerrier tells StateScoop in a recent video interview. “So I’m looking to make sure that I actually feed the pipeline through increasing our STEM efforts, partnering with local universities and community colleges and creating a degree program that actually brings you into an apprentice job within the state of Illinois.”

New efforts to train more students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are being launched by state governments with increasing regularity in recent months, partially to create new talent pipelines for government offices, but also to grow the technical workforce generally. In Nevraska, state CIO Ed Toner says he’s managed to create reliable talent pipelines that have generated an IT workforce that is now 10 percent recent graduates. Nevada even created a new STEM-themed license plate last month to raise awareness of the workforce issue.

But in Illinois, Guerrier says his efforts appear to be working along at least one metric.

“We’re working really hard on doing that and we’re encouraged because the state of Illinois is No. 2 when it comes to computer science degrees, after California,” he says.

Guerrier on his top priorities and projects:

“I actually have five main towers I’m focused on: architecture, service management, project management, data analytics and information security.”

Guerrier on data and analytics:

“Data analytics is one of those interesting places where 15, 10 years ago data was not really thought of. It was like this afterthought.”

Guerrier on how he sees his role changing in the future:

“I always felt my role was to be the master collaborator and bringing new technology, old technology, new resources and leveraged resources together. So that is my job.”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2019.