Silicon Valley’s Public Sector Competes With Tech Giants For Workers

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County’s government is having trouble finding the tech workers it needs.

You might think it would be easy to recruit such people, in a county that’s teeming with tech.

But it’s not.

Santa Clara County has a peculiar problem. It has more than 40 open positions in IT.

County Tax Assessor Larry Stone said, “We compete for employees. So we have to make our case. We haven’t done a very good job of making our case.”

Stone has 9 IT positions open in his office alone, trying to launch a brand new property tax system that will become the model for the entire state of California.

It’s a perfect storm of reasons why there’s an IT shortage. The county is undergoing a massive technology upgrade, baby boomers are retiring, and they are competing for talent with some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world.

But that’s not all.

The county is battling an image problem: that government is slow, inefficient, and kills innovation.

Stone said, “It’s a hard stereotype to overcome when people are used to sterile, cold, government offices and government technology. We are up to date as any place in Silicon Valley.”

The county can’t compete with the private sector in free lunches and perks, but the pay is between $100K and $200K a year.

And the county does offer a pension, and something you really can’t get anywhere else: a promise of a job through the tech booms and busts.

Stone said, “We don’t have bonuses and stock options and so forth, but we do have job stability.”

Finally, they say it’s challenging, meaningful, important work that touches the 1.7 million lives of every man, woman, and child in the county.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez describes the opportunity as, “Making a decent living, having a good work environment, and still getting to change the world.”

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