Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: “Connecticut Towns Combat Shortage of Technical Specialists with Innovative Strategies”
Vernon, Connecticut – In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding the shortage of building officials and technical specialists in towns across Connecticut. Last year, Vernon faced the departure of a building official to Coventry and a planning specialist to Tolland, reflecting the competitive environment between towns and the state. However, Vernon successfully enticed these workers to return by implementing a four-day workweek and making changes to its salary and benefit structure.
To delve deeper into this issue, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) conducted a survey that revealed the pressing need for economic development specialists, code enforcement officers, assessors, and other professionals in member towns. This shortage is exacerbated by a significant number of retirements among state workers due to an aging workforce and changes in the pension formula.
To address these vacancies, state recruiters have adopted diverse strategies, including advertising on television and reaching out to veterans and people with disabilities, to attract qualified candidates. Municipalities, particularly smaller towns, often rely heavily on online recruitment but face difficulties in matching the state’s efforts.
In their quest to fill the talent gaps, towns sometimes resort to poaching workers from other municipalities, hiring retirees, or relying on part-timers. Additionally, to confront the shortage issue, regional service-sharing programs have been developed. These programs involve sharing assessors and building officials among multiple towns, helping to ease the burden.
The CRCOG’s study, alongside state legislation, has resulted in the development of an innovative apprenticeship program for building officials. With a goal of increasing the supply of professionals in the field, the program aims to rebalance the requirements for experience and training. It provides an opportunity for individuals with limited experience to enter the profession.
Recognizing the need for long-term solutions, CRCOG and other organizations are actively working on creating pipelines with local high schools and community colleges. The objective is to encourage younger individuals to consider pursuing careers in municipal professions, ensuring a sustainable supply of technical specialists in the future.
Implementing the apprenticeship program has become a priority for the state, and passionate efforts are being made to create this opportunity for towns. By addressing the shortage of technical specialists through innovative strategies, Connecticut towns can foster thriving communities and ensure the provision of essential services to their residents.
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