Group releases report on skills gap for municipal finance jobs

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In her visits with municipal officials in communities around the Commonwealth, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito says she kept hearing a similar story: the number of qualified professionals ready to step into municipal finance positions was dwindling at an alarming rate.
 
Looking to better understand the challenges around recruitment in municipal finance, and ultimately to craft some solutions, Polito convened a working group of stakeholders from across state government, municipal government, higher education, and the private sector to discuss the issue. The group met for seven months and released its final report on May 15.
 
The working group determined early on that a number of factors contributed to the challenges in municipal finance recruitment. Chief among them were a lack of public awareness of municipal jobs, misunderstanding about the options available in the public finance sector, a lack of civics education in public K-12 schools, a lack of awareness in higher-education finance programs, and a distinct difference between private and public finance, which makes it difficult to move between the two sectors.
 
In its “Local Government Workforce Skills Gap Report,” the group recommended legislative changes that would help alleviate the shortage of available finance professionals, including lifting the cap on the number of hours a retired municipal official is allowed to work, and easing the ability for smaller communities to share staff.
 
The group created a 10-point action plan to address member concerns. The action items were categorized as short-, medium- and long-term.
 
The MMA and its affiliated groups will play a significant role in many of the recommendations. These efforts will include “telling our story” to the public (why work in local government), partnering with other stakeholders on training opportunities, creating sustainable mentoring partnerships between seasoned and less-experienced municipal finance professionals, and working with higher education to ensure that a potential career in municipal finance is introduced in a meaningful way to students.
 
The MMA had representation on the working group from T.J. Plante of Springfield representing the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association, Arlington Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler representing the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association, Wilmington Assistant Town Manager Denise Casey representing the Massachusetts Municipal Personnel Association, and MMA Administration & Finance Director Katie McCue.
 
Local Government Workforce Skills Gap Report (3.5M PDF)
 
For more information, contact Katie McCue at 617-426-7272, ext. 111, or kmccue@mma.org.