SBC Faces Shortage of Professionals

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Hollister
– What happened to the glamour of government work?
Hollister – What happened to the glamour of government work?

Internal Services Director Rich Inman said several county departments are having trouble filling vacant jobs. Unfilled openings include mental health clinicians, registered engineers and other positions in the mental health, public works, and health and human services departments. Most of the openings, he said, are for jobs that require professional training.

“It’s not indigenous to San Benito County,” Inman said. “It’s a problem with most small counties.”

Inman, who went to work for the county in June, said he dealt with similar issues in his previous job with Mariposa County. The hiring difficulties are caused by a number of factors, Inman said, including the ability of larger jurisdictions to offer better pay and benefits, the greater attractiveness to many applicants of major metropolitan areas and the decreasing numbers of professionals interested in working for the government.

“Without question, this is a big problem,” Supervisor Anthony Botelho said.

Botelho said that although it’s a countywide issue, he’s particularly concerned about openings in public works, because a lack of engineers can turn into a major delay for big projects.

“It also slows up the process for other departments,” Botelho said.

Inman noted that in addition to having problems recruiting professionals, the county is struggling with retention.

“Sometimes we hire people straight out of school, and sometimes that works out,” he said. “But quite often, as soon as we train them, they’re gone.”

County staff will give a presentation about the issue at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, and they plan to offer some specific suggestions soon. According to Inman, possible strategies include higher salaries and benefits, housing allowances and incentive payments for advanced degrees.

Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected]

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