California moves its IT job descriptions into the 21st century

California state government will rewrite and consolidate dozens of outdated information technology job descriptions in an attempt to attract new workers and provide clear promotion paths for current employees.

The State Personnel Board on Thursday unanimously approved the plan, which marked the biggest reorganization of job descriptions for current state workers in Gov. Jerry Brown’s 3-year-old effort to modernize civil service policies.

The changes will affect about 10,000 rank-and-file workers and exempt managers, according to the state Human Resources Department. Almost 20 percent of the state’s IT jobs are vacant, and state leaders say the outdated job descriptions have deterred candidates from seeking work at state agencies.

The reclassification “recognizes the modern skill set for IT,” said Amy Tong, director of the California Department of Technology. “This is a huge change.”

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The plan collapses 36 different job titles into just nine positions that state departments could use to hire and promote entry-level staff, managers or specialists.

Dozens of state IT workers packed into the hearing and demonstrated outside of the State Personnel Board. Their union, SEIU Local 1000, has said the plan has some lingering problems, such as unclear supervisory issues and adjustments to minimum qualifications for the positions.

The union also wants the state to reconsider pay scales for IT workers. SEIU 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado said the state’s move to change job titles and descriptions would open the contract to negotiations.

“Compensation is going to be a key item,” Maldonado told the board about her expectations for upcoming talks.

Brown’s Government Operations Agency is overseeing the civil service improvement project, which has redesigned a state job website, eliminated hundreds of obsolete job titles from state records and simplified exams that are required for state job applications.

“We all have the same goal to get the best people working for the state of California,” State Personnel Board member Richard Costigan said at the hearing.

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