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Civic Engagement--Large and Small
Unformatted Document Text:  current jobs, about 400,000, will open during the same time frame. The story is similar in the Central Valley; about 12,000 people will be needed to fill new jobs and probably a similar number to replace retirees. Government will be one of the two fastest-growing industries in five of the six counties in the area (California Employment Development Department 2004). Staffing difficulties appear especially pronounced in small and medium sized communities such as those in California’s Central Valley. Anecdotal evidence on the loss of key employees to retirement is mounting (Ashton 2006, Armstrong 2007). Due to a dearth of qualified candidates, many counties and cities in these rapidly growing exurbs leave positions unfilled. For instance, a quick perusal of job announcements in the six-county region serviced by California State University, Stanislaus reveals that policy, planning, and administrative positions often remain vacant for extended periods of time. To provide important services, local administrators are forced to rely on consultants, frequently from out of the area 2 . Governments that foresee the coming staffing shortage have some tools to address it. Workplace and succession planning is chief among these tools. This planning effort generally involves top management and human resources experts working together to develop staffing needs and identify gaps between the quantity and capabilities of current employees and future needs of the organization. Effective planning requires a strategic plan, accountability, and regular assessment of progress toward closing those gaps (Pynes 2 This type of contracting is rather controversial. Some see this contracting as a cost- effective method for service provision (see, for instance, Osborne and Gaebler 1992, Stokey and Zeckhauser 1978). Kettl (2002) recognizes the growth of contracting and acknowledges its appropriateness in certain contexts, he remains skeptical that administration based largely on contracting can meet public needs. Voicing even more fundamental concerns about the state of American democracy, Milward and Provan (1993) suggest the surge in contracting and other forms of privatization creates a “hollow state.” Regardless of one’s views on contracting, in general, reliance on contractors from out of the area suggests a lack of indigenous local governance expertise. 9

Authors: Colnic, David. and Shinn, Paul.
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current jobs, about 400,000, will open during the same time frame. The story is similar in
the Central Valley; about 12,000 people will be needed to fill new jobs and probably a
similar number to replace retirees. Government will be one of the two fastest-growing
industries in five of the six counties in the area (California Employment Development
Department 2004). Staffing difficulties appear especially pronounced in small and
medium sized communities such as those in California’s Central Valley. Anecdotal
evidence on the loss of key employees to retirement is mounting (Ashton 2006,
Armstrong 2007). Due to a dearth of qualified candidates, many counties and cities in
these rapidly growing exurbs leave positions unfilled. For instance, a quick perusal of
job announcements in the six-county region serviced by California State University,
Stanislaus reveals that policy, planning, and administrative positions often remain vacant
for extended periods of time. To provide important services, local administrators are
forced to rely on consultants, frequently from out of the area
Governments that foresee the coming staffing shortage have some tools to address
it. Workplace and succession planning is chief among these tools. This planning effort
generally involves top management and human resources experts working together to
develop staffing needs and identify gaps between the quantity and capabilities of current
employees and future needs of the organization. Effective planning requires a strategic
plan, accountability, and regular assessment of progress toward closing those gaps (Pynes
2
This type of contracting is rather controversial. Some see this contracting as a cost-
effective method for service provision (see, for instance, Osborne and Gaebler 1992,
Stokey and Zeckhauser 1978). Kettl (2002) recognizes the growth of contracting and
acknowledges its appropriateness in certain contexts, he remains skeptical that
administration based largely on contracting can meet public needs. Voicing even more
fundamental concerns about the state of American democracy, Milward and Provan
(1993) suggest the surge in contracting and other forms of privatization creates a “hollow
state.” Regardless of one’s views on contracting, in general, reliance on contractors from
out of the area suggests a lack of indigenous local governance expertise.
9


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