Federal and state government agencies facing an IT talent shortage are struggling to deal with an IT talent pipeline that is rapidly drying out, according to a report by Washington-based Freedman Consulting. “Technology talent is a key need in government and civil society, but the current state of the pipeline is inadequate to meet that need,” the report says. “The bad news is that existing institutions and approaches are insufficient to build and sustain this pipeline, particularly in the face of sharp for-profit competition.” That competition comes from Silicon Valley, with its bevy of perks from free food to on-site car care to cool work environments, not mention heftier paychecks.

But Politico also points to an inherent difference in attitude among IT workers in the Valley verses those in D.C. Namely, the willingness in California to “run with ideas and ‘break things’” compared to D.C.’s more cautious approach of following protocols and getting chain-of-command signoffs. The challenges in attracting talent to the public sector will likely become greater as baby boomers prepare to retire. Partly because of that, the D.C. area is considered to have strong growth potential for IT jobs.

From the employer’s point of view, things aren’t all bleak, the Freedman report notes. It suggests that the need for tech talent can be addressed through a multifaceted approach that pays attention to training and retention as well as recruiting.  But that does seem a tall order given the difficultly in altering the human mindset, especially when you’re dealing with cultures as distinct as Washington and Silicon Valley.

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Governments Worry Over Lack of IT Talent