Fresh off a stint as CIO of a major federal agency, DeVries strikes an optimistic note when it comes to filling IT positions.
Michigan CIO David DeVries has hit the ground running. Appointed at the end of August following the departure earlier this year of David Behen, DeVries previously held the title of CIO at the federal Office of Personnel Management. Prior to that, he held various IT leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Defense.
"The problem sets are not that dissimilar between a local municipality, a county, and state, and then the federal side of house," DeVries said in an interview with Government Technology at last month's NASCIO conference in Austin, adding "How you approach them and the resources you have available to take them on are different, of course."
Late last month, DeVries stood alongside Gov. Rick Snyder as a new partnership was announced making the state the first to launch the State Digital Acceleration Program with Cisco. Modeled after a global program Cisco has used to help 16 countries grow their gross domestic product, the three-year effort is aimed at encouraging innovation and investment while streamlining government service delivery.
There's an education component to the Cisco partnership too, which could help DeVries and Snyder grow the future IT workforce — an issue on the minds of CIOs at all levels of government.
DeVries estimates that about one-third of current staff could retire in the next few years. But the numbers don't scare him. In fact, he sees it as an everyday business challenge: "There's a known process of retirement," he said. "We're going to manage it; that's what people do."
He's confident in efforts now under way in Michigan to encourage a variety of paths to IT employment, many of which don't require four-year degrees. High school graduates who complete specialized training through certificate programs, for example, can be ready to join the workforce much faster.
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