Indiana takes varied approach to workforce development

An aging workforce inside state government presents a major challenge on several fronts. The public sector is often less attractive for top talent given its compensation limitations, and the younger employees who often replace those retiring lack the skills to manage legacy technologies that states must keep operational, like mainframes.

In Indiana state government, state Chief Information Officer Dewand Neely says this hasn’t become a problem yet, but that he’s vigilant.

“You keep hearing about the ‘silver tsunami,’” Neely says in a video interview with StateScoop. “At least in Indiana it hasn’t came yet. I still got folks hanging on, excited to come into work. And so trying to find that next generation and still get them prepped, it continues to be a challenge.”

The state is taking several different approaches around workforce, Neely says.

“We realize that some folks aren’t interested in signing up for a 20-year career anymore, and so being able to offer more flexible retirement packages, not necessarily trying to sell the lifetime pension anymore, making it more flexible for folks that are looking to move in and out [are all strategies we use].”

Neely says his office, the Indiana Office of Technology, is creating more short-term advancement opportunities for employees and targeting new pools of potential talent.

“[It’s] being more strategic for faster opportunities to be promoted and to get access to new things, leveraging more of our openings from a college standpoint,” he says. “[We’re] offering more fellowships and things of that sort to get people in and exposed in hopes they may take another look once they eventually get out of college.”

Neely on his top priorities:

“We’re working on several things on the front with trying to take a more hybrid-everything approach with how we deliver services to our agencies and subsequently to our citizens. What we mean with ‘hybrid-everything’ is finding the right solution for the particular need and the requirements.”

Neely on cloud computing:

“I think we’re going to try to find that happy medium in between, really be strategic on where can we leverage the niche offerings of cloud to address some pain points, especially around cost.”

Neely on customer relationships management:

“We don’t have today, but I want to work on is get a full inventory on the case management type applications we have in the state.”

Neely on emerging technology:

“I think the best thing we can do is create the capability to test and if we can create an easy barrier to entry, just a quick way to test out these emerging technologies, I think that will be a great benefit for the agencies to be able to throw a quick use case at it to see if it’s even in the ballpark of possibility.”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in May 2019.