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Bringing in the Next Generation of IT Talent in Georgia

Through internships and hands-on experience, Georgia CIO Shawnzia Thomas is building a pipeline of new staff for her agency and showing them the value of working in government.

Shawnzia Thomas Georgia CIO.jpeg
Government Technology/David Kidd
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Getting younger talent into the public-sector workforce isn’t a matter of making a good sales pitch, Georgia CIO Shawnzia Thomas told GovTech at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference this week. “You’ve got to bring them in and show them,” she said.

Workforce is always a top-of-mind topic for NASCIO members. In the latest iteration of the organization’s annual state CIO survey, released this past Monday, the top way IT leaders reported trying to attract and retain a highly skilled IT workforce was “promoting non-salary benefits.” One of those benefits, as a number of CIOs said, including Thomas, is the mission of public-sector service.

Many states, Georgia among them, are setting up internship programs, showing students and young workers what it might look like for them to take a government job, even if they only stay for a few years. Thomas’ team is working with a local technical college network to get students into the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) and see for themselves what it means to serve the public. Like other CIOs, Thomas said you have to communicate the importance of the government mission, that the work they do at GTA impacts their own families and communities.

She’s encouraging other agencies in the state to take the same approach, to show potential staff “the why” of what they do in Georgia government.

Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.