Developing tomorrow's workforce needs thought leadership that's '20 steps ahead'

Placing women, veterans and a new generation of workers into state government IT requires passion and planning.

Maine’s director of workforce development, Kelly Samson-Rickert, sees what a lot of people see who are in her position around the country — the American workforce is getting older, and for government, especially, attracting an emerging workforce can be challenging.

Just as Maine is transitioning away from its old IT systems, the state is also preparing for what the future is going to look like as its senior IT workers depart. In a video interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officer’s annual conference, she shared with StateScoop what that future will look like.

In Maine, Samson-Rickert said, their mentorship programs give their workers a sense of pride to teach newcomers, and a sense of hope for what the future looks like.

“We have developed a pipeline for internships and mentoring,” she said. “That’s been ongoing. It’s probably about three years now that we’ve had our program in place, but we have about 75 percent retention. So, we are keeping our interns.”

Maine is also considering a boot camp to recruit veterans into IT, and in August Maine launched a program called “Women in IT,” which aims to close the gender gap as fewer women consider technology jobs. The Industry Gender Gap, a report published in January by the World Economic Forum, showed that women comprise just 24 percent of the world’s technology workforce.

“Workforce development,” isn’t the most suitable name, and that’s why they started calling it ‘workforce innovation,'” Samson-Rickert said, because they’re always looking 20 steps ahead.

“We realized it’s more than just developing what you have now,” she said, “but it’s what you’re looking for in the future.”

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