By David Beier and Maria Echaveste
California is a global innovation leader, home to the world’s most advanced technology companies across many industries. The state is also a social policy leader, investing tens of billions in once-in-a-generation projects to address climate change, housing shortages, homelessness, mental health services, massive education reform, and sustainable access to water.
While California stands out for its ambition, our biggest challenge today is our ability to get things done. Simply put, it’s about people and management. There are four major areas where California state leaders should focus their attention:
- Hire and promote workers whose skills and diversity match today’s needs.
- Change the process for managing, evaluating and course-correcting big programs.
- Reduce the state’s reliance on consulting firms by limiting to areas where there is an expertise gap, designing engagements to transition expertise to the state workforce.
- Focus on outcomes that are fair and transparent but reduce legal procedures and litigation delays that undermine trust in government.
21st century government needs greater diversity and new skills to execute its obligations. In the coming years, baby boomer state employees will make way for a workforce that is more diverse, better skilled, and better trained — especially in technology. Executive and legislative branches need to upgrade their oversight functions to measure performance outcomes with transparency and accountability.
As a starting point, the state should adopt the policy recently announced in Pennsylvania, eliminating college degree requirements for a large majority of job titles. This practice is consistent with steps taken by major companies in the OneTen coalition.
Second, California should recruit new workers from among the roughly 100,000 tech-savvy managers and engineers who have been recently laid off. New technologies like AI, geospatial mapping and data analysis tools require workers with new skills. The state’s recruitment pitch should center on workplace flexibility.