New York to draft in 250 IT contractors because state staff 'lack talent'

Tech workers not able to keep up with new systems, we're told

New York state officials say they are having to hire outside consultants to work on their systems because the state's own IT personnel lack the skills to manage newer technology.

This according to testimony from the state's head of civil service, Lola Brabham, who told a state budget committee that the state's in-house IT department "doesn't always have the cutting-edge skills ... or the talent," and that 250 contractors will need to be hired for specific positions.

According to the Albany Times Union, Brabham made the comments while explaining to state lawmakers the plan to hire the contractors to work a five-year term for the state, without first requiring that they pass the New York civil service exams.

In order to bring inhouse the skills to work on the specialized systems, Brabham argued, contractors will need to be hired from outside the pool of exam-taking applicants and state IT staff, who are primarily trained to oversee the older systems on which many state offices still run.

The testimony came as part of a larger hearing on Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget plans for the year.

A skills gap has long been seen as one of the top issues facing both private and public IT organizations. First over the shortfalls in training programs, and more recently in the ability of specially skilled IT workers to land jobs that would make use of their expertise.

New York is not alone in its troubles with finding qualified in-house candidates for government work. Last year, the UK encountered a similar problem when it tried to lower its reliance on contracted firms and "insource" IT operations. ®

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