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Building a Next-Generation Labor Force in North Dakota

At last week's NASCIO Midyear conference in Washington, D.C., leaders like North Dakota CISO Michael Gregg outlined their approaches to tapping new talent pools for state IT.

North Dakota Chief Information Security Officer Michael Gregg
Government Technology/David Kidd
The tides are turning when it comes to advanced degree requirements for technology jobs in government. Many state leaders, for example, agree that introducing more flexibility into entry-level position requirements is a positive step. Former Illinois CIO Jennifer Ricker, for example, told GT last year about her department's focus on considering technical certifications, two-year degrees and relevant experience as alternative paths into state IT roles.

Persistent challenges filling open positions are forcing this kind of creativity on the part of public-sector technology leaders. The 2023 list of priorities from NASCIO underscores this finding: Workforce jumped to No. 3 on state CIO priority lists this year, up from No. 7 in 2022.

In North Dakota, CISO Michael Gregg described the state's efforts to create a "tiered" system of job classifications that opens up career opportunities to new pools of applicants. At last week's NASCIO Midyear conference, Gregg elaborated on the benefits of this approach, pointing to the support the state can offer for continued career growth once skilled workers who lack four-year degrees begin work with the state.

Another avenue for fueling the state's IT talent pipeline is its apprenticeship program, which Gregg reports has a placement rate of about 80 percent. As he explains below, the Legislature recently green-lit a significant expansion of the program, allowing IT officials to extend more opportunity throughout the state. This includes reaching into "historically disadvantaged" communities, enabling them to "grow their education and grow their skills and see the work that we do in state government."

Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management 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.
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.