The career track for California state IT employees may improve after Gov. Jerry Brown’s massive government reorganization plan takes effect, says Sue Johnsrud, chief operating officer for the governor’s office. Johnrud’s comments were made during a panel discussion on leadership at the CIO Academy held today in Sacramento.

“Everyone always acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges is trying to hire and retain IT professionals. That’s a huge challenge in state government,” said Johnsrud. “Putting General Services and CalHR with CTA [California Technology Agency], we’re hoping we can start a better dialogue and… start more leadership academies where we can find ideas on how we can better create the skill sets that we need. Not just the skill sets but how to retain people.”

Johnsrud said the vision of creating CalHR, which consolidated the State Personnel Board and the Department of Personnel Administration, included making it easier to hire IT staff by streamlining the exam process and having the Technology Agency under the same agency to help with the effort.

According to estimates, fifty percent of California’s IT workforce will be of retirement age within the next five years.

“Succession planning is more important than ever and that is exactly why the Technology Agency’s Office of Professional Development, via IT Leadership Academy, training and educational forums, is taking the necessary steps today to ensure California has the skilled workforce needed ten years from now,” said Assistant Secretary Kari Gutierrez, who heads up the office.

Governor’s Reorganization Plan No. 2 will reduce the number of state agencies from 12 to 10. Five existing state agencies will be replaced by new agencies, including the Government Operations Agency, the Business and Consumer Services Agency and the Transportation Agency. The California Technology Agency is among the agencies targeted for changes and will become the Department of Technology under the new Government Operations Agency. The Plan, which passed into law last summer, is slated to be implemented no later than July of this year.