Addressing the Talent Challenge in Local Government: The Silicon Valley Two-County Next Generation Task Force

Source: Bob Bell and Donna Vaillancourt, California Public Employee Relations, no. 199, May 2010
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People in all sectors of the workforce are entering the demographic known as “aging,” and the current wave of retirements is expected to continue. With a higher percentage of older workers, the public sector is particularly vulnerable to this exodus. At the same time, competition for a new pool of qualified and talented workers is going to get fierce as job growth improves — the emerging global economy has moved the talent competition to an international stage1 and, as individuals exit the labor force, there are fewer workers to replace them.

In economically lean times and in the face of budget deficits, how do governmental agencies attract and develop top talent to their workforces? How do they collaboratively develop and encourage leaders?

To confront these issues in the Silicon Valley, public administrators from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties formed the Two-County Next Generation Task Force, under the direction of Dr. Frank Benest, former city manager of Palo Alto and adviser for the International City/County Management Association. The task force, comprised of city managers, human resource professionals, executives from workforce planning agencies, and college administrators, has taken a two-pronged approach to its mission: to attract individuals to local government work and to accelerate the development of emerging leaders in local agencies.

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