‘10 percent’ of Nebraska IT’s workforce is new graduates

By building and maintaining strong partnerships with local colleges, the state government’s technology agency has been able to hire and retain a many recent graduates.

In fact, Nebraska CIO Ed Toner tells StateScoop in a video interview, about 10 percent of his office, the Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer, are just two or three years out of college.

“Workforce has been a huge bright spot for Nebraska,” Toner says. “We have a great relationship with Southeast Community College there in Lincoln, Nebraska. We helped shape their curriculum, we visit their campus every month, we’ve hired 56 of their graduates over the last three years and we’ve an attrition rate of two.”

While many state government IT officials say they are worried about the impending wave of retiring technology workers, it’s not a problem at all in Nebraska, Toner says, thanks to constant recruiting at local colleges.

“They’re doing a fantastic job for us,” Toner says. “We’re expanding out to other agencies, so now not only is my agency using that same plan, but they’re using us to recruit for their talent.”

But Toner says the state could be doing more to retain its most talented workers, many of whom move on to jobs outside of Nebraska.

“I’m hoping to expand that and keep some of our talent there in Nebraska because I think one of our major exports really is our youth,” he says. “We’re losing a lot to other states.”

Toner on his top priorities and projects:

“We had three major initiatives this year. One was to upgrade our ERP system. We did that last month. Went flawlessly.”

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

“It’s the art of the possible. We do a lot of talks with agencies. We do that with DHHS right now. ‘Here’s what’s possible.’”

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