For government agencies trying to build a deeper pool of IT talent, the confluence of the so-called Great Resignation with the move to hybrid work offers a new glimmer of hope.
The Great Resignation refers to the growing number of people who have quit their jobs (more than 47 million in 2021) or say they are looking to change jobs (44% in one survey). While state and local agencies are feeling some of those same pressures, the option of hiring remote workers means they can access a much larger talent pool than ever before.
“It used to be that hiring was geographically limited — that you could recruit only from those who lived near where your location was,” said Emily Branchaw of Red Hat. “But now with this reach dappling into this remote workforce, we see talent moving all over the place.”
That said, to take advantage of that talent, agencies need to consider new sources for their talent pipeline.
Many students with IT degrees have plenty of book learning but not much hands-on experience in specialized areas. Agencies should look for students who have taken that extra step, said Lea Fenske of Red Hat Academy. The Academy program partners with academic institutions to provide students with hands-on training in Linux, cloud and development technologies.
“They can get started on day one, whereas maybe somebody who comes from a more traditional degree program will need more ramp-up time to develop those specialized skills,” Fenske said.
Traditionally, many agencies have limited their search to individuals who have a college degree in a relevant field. But that requirement unnecessarily keeps out people who have developed their IT skills through specialized training and certification programs.
Agencies should look for an opportunity to partner with community colleges or community-based organizations to find new talent pools, Branchaw said.
Red Hat’s workforce development program allows colleges and universities to help nondegree-seeking students get into the IT field via certification. The program opens the IT field to students who perhaps can’t afford a full degree program or who need a shorter, more direct path from education to employment.
But even certifications don’t tell the full story, especially when it comes to people who are switching careers or reentering the workforce, Branchaw said. Agencies also should look at the work and life experiences that applicants bring, the competencies they have developed and how all that maps against the job requirements.
“As employers become more open to job applications with non-traditional experiences, they’re going to have a more well-rounded workforce,” said Branchaw.
By drawing on a broader talent pool, agencies can bring new depth to their workforce.
“These are tangible ways that we can start to cultivate more diverse and inclusive perspectives in their workforce,” Fenske said. “Innovation in hiring and training can really drive the technical innovation that agencies are trying to develop.”
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide “Solving Your Hybrid Workforce Problems.”