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Study Offers Potential Solutions for Public Finance Workforce

A study from Lightcast and the Government Finance Officers Association shows that state and local public finance has not recovered from employment losses since the pandemic. Looming retirements could make the worker shortage worse. Read on for the study’s potential solutions.
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Throughout the year, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) leadership aims to discover current challenges burdening its members in order to provide programs aligned with member interests. Prior to COVID-19, GFOA members typically cited new GASB standards or impacts of revenue constraints as their greatest challenges, but in the wake of the pandemic, members now cite talent retention as their primary concern. In September 2022, GFOA partnered with Lightcast, a labor market data and analytics company that provides guidance to help organizations make informed decisions, to analyze and evaluate how state and local public finance jobs can meet the current demand.

Unlike Other Industries

The Lightcast study1 found that the supply-demand gap for state and local public finance workers is widening faster than the overall economy, and while other industries have reversed employment losses since COVID-19, state and local public finance has not. In addition, due to the population dynamic in state and local public finance jobs, the forthcoming wave of retirements will further highlight the current shortage in public finance officers. While public finance has historically been more resilient than other sectors during economic downturns, it also has taken longer to recover.

So, Hire More People

The initial solution that comes to mind is adjusting the hiring process to become more attractive and open to a wider range of people. As Lightcast recommends, this can be accomplished through incentivizing hiring, reducing degree requirements, tailoring “want to have” versus “must have” credentials, and tapping into adjacent talent pools. State and local public finance positions have advantages that should be highlighted to potential candidates such as: low job turnover, high tenure, higher pay in entry-level positions, greater work-life balance, and higher diversity relative to other sectors.

At the same time, it is essential to safeguard current talent through retention strategies that include investing in employee development and growth and building out managerial roles and career paths that reward that growth.

What About Right Now?

While the solutions from the Lightcast study have numerous and long-term benefits, they can take time to implement and produce results. In the meantime, existing employees may take on additional responsibilities and struggle to maintain their workloads and quality of work. While some responsibilities and projects can be delayed until new employees are hired and trained, some projects require more immediate solutions without straining the current talent pool.

A Changing Workforce May Help

In recent years, there have been changes to the workforce with the emergence and increasing popularity of “the gig economy.” Consisting of skilled professionals looking for a new career path, supplemental income, or a new skill set, gig workers can be selective in projects they choose. These projects can range from short-term internal audit, data analyst, or finance positions to longer-term regulatory compliance, project management, or technology implementation projects. And given the unpredictable nature of business cycles and the immediate impact of the economy, organizations also benefit from incorporating gig workers into hiring strategies to fill open positions, scaling up or down as needed. This may bode well for the technology, healthcare, financial services, and consumer product sectors, which are quickly affected by movement in the financial markets.

Taking Advantage of the Gig Economy

The gig economy has brought about the emergence of gig workers who enter into employment agreements to provide on-demand services to an organization. In this capacity, gig workers usually have more flexibility than their traditional full-time counterparts, such as setting their own hours, working from home, and working for a variety of employers.

However, knowing where to find the best talent with the matching skill set for projects can be challenging for hiring managers, especially if they don’t know where to look. To address this marketplace need, new talent acquisition platforms have emerged that specialize in matching highly skilled gig workers to projects, such as TALENT SHIFT™, a subsidiary of Forvis Mazars. TALENT SHIFT is a digital talent marketplace that helps connect gig workers with projects that fit their skill sets and interests, as well as their desire for hybrid and flexible work schedules. TALENT SHIFT focuses on building a talent pool to help match skill sets with the needs of various engagements and assist with hard-to-recruit skills across a wide variety of industries.

As the growing workforce continues to evolve, new and innovative solutions will continue to emerge, helping to close the supply and demand gap for employees. A sound talent strategy that taps into the highly skilled talent pool of gig workers should be a key component to any organization’s road map for continued growth and success. Looking to the future, it will be important for hiring managers to research options and evaluate project needs that best suit their employees and organization.

To learn more about TALENT SHIFT and how gig workers can help with your project, please reach out to a member of the TALENT SHIFT team.

  • 1“Meeting Demand for State and Local Public Finance Jobs,”

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