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Executive Summary

The goal of this information technology (IT) workforce skills assessment is to gather information to help New York State (NYS) better meet the training and development needs of its IT professionals, and to identify future needs for IT skills. The project included two voluntary on line surveys. The first was directed to IT employees and the second to Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in state agencies. The two surveys together produced a comprehensive current profile of self-reported demographics, skill proficiencies, and training needs of the current state IT workforce, as well as a comprehensive set of agency level IT forecasts for the next three years. This report, prepared by the Center for Technology in Government (CTG), is the first step in a longer term effort. In the next phase, the State CIO Council Human Resources Committee and its subgroups will use these results to generate recommendations for next steps and action plans that enhance professional development and skill proficiency for the entire IT workforce. In addition, CTG will produce agency level reports to be provided to participating agency CIOs for similar future planning.

The data show that New York has a strong foundation for moving into the future. The IT workforce has strong and pervasive management skills, and strong proficiency in fundamental IT topics. IT employees are well-educated and very experienced in state government and in the missions of agencies. The workforce is stable and highly motivated for training in both traditional and new areas. On average, employees reported a need for some level of training (from basic to advanced) in 42 of the 126 skills in the survey. Many commented that frequent and varied training is necessary because the field changes continually and because its components are so interdependent. The retirement picture is mixed. Non-managerial IT professionals indicate they may retire in only modest numbers in the near future, but a growing wave of impending retirements, especially after 2009 and among management staff is a concern. As a counterpoint to this picture, most employees are interested in working for the State part time after retirement.

Strong proficiency exists in foundational IT technical areas such as system design and development, programming, and technical support services which are all important for current and future IT effectiveness. Equally important, however, the study showed a substantial gap between the current proficiency profile of the IT workforce and the skill needs forecasted for growth in the near future. Infrastructure (including security), web computing, and work associated with information content appear to present major challenges. Most agency CIOs forecast growing need for skills in these competency areas, but current proficiency levels are low in all three. Fortunately, strong convergence is evident across employees, CIOs, and state IT leaders on the types of skills that are necessary to achieve and sustain an effective IT enterprise across state government in the future. These skills were identified by comparing low current proficiency ratings, high future need, high employee training demand, and strategic importance. These skills represent the most fruitful areas for investments in workforce skill development.

Training professionals can use the data from this study to construct comprehensive programs and coherent curricula that address the needs of workers in a variety of job specialties and in core competencies that pertain to all IT professionals. In addition, similarities in key needs across all types of agencies present opportunities for partnerships and economies of scale in training and professional development investments.

Finally, the study results suggest areas for future investigation and leadership attention. These pertain to three topics: workforce development, training program design, and organizational and enterprise IT planning.