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How Illinois Is Tackling the IT Talent Challenge

State IT organizations are struggling to fill their ranks, forcing many to re-examine how they hire. Illinois CIO Jennifer Ricker describes the state’s efforts to add entry-level roles and edit job descriptions to create new pathways in.

Illinois CIO Jennifer Ricker .jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
IT staffing is a top five priority for states, according to the most recent Digital States Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government.* It came in at No. 3 this year, while workforce ranked No. 7 on NASCIO's list of 2022 priorities. As states focus on keeping systems secure and creating user-centered digital services, they're also in need of skilled workers to staff their initiatives and ensure stable IT operations in a highly competitive job market.

At the NASCIO conference in Louisville earlier this month, GT asked state CIOs about the creative tactics they're using to fill vacancies and build the workforce of the future. Several common themes emerged, including the growing realization that four-year degrees are not necessary for all IT roles.

Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology Secretary and State CIO Jennifer Ricker talked about her state's approach to filling the talent pipeline, noting that the intent is to create "varying pathways in" to state employment. "You maybe have certifications only or you have a two-year degree, you might have military experience that's relevant or some other work experience beyond educational requirements," she said. "We're trying to create as many possible ways to get to talent as possible."

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.
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.