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Utah Combats Employee Turnover with IT Upskilling Program

Department of Technology


As Utah's tech ecosystem grew many left their jobs in local government for positions at startups offering much more training and growth opportunities. Utah's Department of Technology implemented an upskilling program that gave state employees access to more learning opportunities to increase employee retention.

Topics Covered

Civic Technology
Process Improvement


Initial: Zero Upfront Cost


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2020

Gov Champion

Department of Technology Services

Problem Addressed

Despite being in the 'Silicon Slopes,' Utah's Department of Technology Services lagged in its own technological development.

Utah is on a rapid path towards modernization, focused on creating the next Silicon Valley, coined as the 'Silicon Slopes.' While many companies have moved their headquarters to the Wasatch Front, creating a more technology-centric state, the state government remained far behind in its own technological development.

With these companies providing extensive learning opportunities and skill development, some state employees have left their positions for training experiences they weren't able to get while working in the government. “These companies do a great job recruiting our employees,” Hussey, head of Utah's DTS, says. “We have some great folks who come in, learn what we’re doing in the state and then spread their wings.”

Not only was the state losing employees due to its outdated training programs, but its aggressive move to the cloud created even greater demand for specific, hard-to-staff skillsets, leaving many current employees under-qualified for their new job descriptions. Transitioning to the cloud also spurred the need to level-set capabilities across teams working for different state departments and projects. When the mainframe was retired, the current development skills went with it, requiring employees to learn something new. If DTS were to re-vamp its systems, it needed to re-vamp its employees skills alongside it, providing ample growth opportunities.

Solutions Used

Staff utilized an upskilling strategy designed to increase employee retention through organizational development.

Utah’s Department of Technology Services leaders developed a skills strategy plan built around creative approaches to help staff modernize their skills and for managers to more easily identify and nurture existing technology talent. They used Pluralsight's Skills' web-based platform to provide highly targeted training after identifying skill gaps.

Offering over 7,000 online courses, Pluralsight Skills provided the range of training required for its new technical focus which helped DTS employees grow their skill base. To target the skills the department needed most, managers created "channels" of aggregated training content in areas ranging from AWS cloud architecture to the AngularJS framework and project management. As licenses are available as a per-person annual subscription, the department could offer individualized training to each staff member.

The skill-building opportunities in these channels run the full range of learning experiences, from embedded microlearning opportunities and refreshers all the way through comprehensive tutorials and certification programs in key technology areas. The platform meets employees where they're at, narrowing in on knowledge gaps and helping users fill them.

Using the Pluralsight Flow platform, engineering managers were able to take a closer look at ongoing projects to identify bottlenecks & potential skills gaps. This has helped them target additional skill-building opportunities based on the efficiency of the work being done. "We had managers do the analysis of code that was checked in and suggest training for their IT groups,” Hussey says. “It was a way to increase their teams’ IQ in the technology stack.” Flow’s emphasis on efficiency has become a key part of how managers oversee projects and staff.



The majority of DTS' 720 employees engage in skill-building activities, with 20% of learners progressing to expert-level ratings in their areas of study.


Providing ample growth opportunity has helped the department increase its employee retention, allowing individuals the ability to reinvent themselves & redefine their roles .


Managers have access to a more holistic view of whether staff and contractors are reworking code or advancing a project, indicating what areas need improvement.


Increased visibility focusing on project advancement rather than tracking lines of code or internet usage helps managers oversee and foster an efficient remote workplace.


The ability to find hidden staff strengths helped the team build up the agility necessary to navigate unpredictable times.

Lessons Learned


Using the visibility provided by the Skills & Flow platforms, a team can view more concrete data to appropriately promote or reassign team members.


All employees can build up skills, with DTS's top user to date being a receptionist who trained herself in project management and subsequently shifting roles.

Something Unique

DTS' had an engineer develop a critical application within about two weeks, whose expertise was identified with the department's increased workflow visibility. Now that management was able to quickly map projects to employees, they were confident when they placed him into a lead development role for another crucial project.

Who Should Consider

Governments developing modernization strategies and those looking to increase employee growth opportunities and better identify employee skill gaps.

Last Updated

May 11th, 2022

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