San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, CA: Addressing Tomorrow’s Talent Crisis Today

The workforce

San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have a total of more than 10,000 employees, a growing number of whom will be eligible to retire in the next decade.


Convincing local governments to focus on the talent crisis while they are cutting budgets; funding the program.


Since 2005, local governments in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have participated in a Two-County Next Generation Committee. The committee, which is sponsored by the City/County Managers associations of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, has three long-term goals:

  • accelerate the development of employees already in the local government pipeline
  • retain high-potential talent through learning and other growth opportunities
  • attract young and diverse people into the local government pipeline to replenish the ranks


Programs to grow and retain talent

  • Management Talent Exchange Program
  • “Tomorrow’s Executive Forum,” a one-day workshop to develop young leaders who will eventually serve as either city/county Managers or department directors.
  • Leadership Academies for emerging leaders
  • Speed coaching events

Programs to attract talent

  • Regional internship program: An online job board ( matches university students with summer internships, both paid and unpaid, in local government agencies in the Silicon Valley.  The students also benefit from working with a coach and participating in three learning forums during their internship.
  • Job Shadow Day for university students in the Bay Area
  • Development of a guide on local government careers for university career centers
  • Annual forum for university career centers in the Bay Area
  • City/County Manager in Residence: Universities in the Bay Area have the opportunity to host a manager in residence.  Over the course of three to five days, the manager provides in-class presentations, one-on-one coaching for students interested in local government, and brown bag lunch presentations. Stanford, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, University of the Pacific, Cal State Sacramento, Cal State University East Bay, and Mills College have all participated in the program.

Creative funding

The funding mix includes pro bono and in-kind services, per-participant fees paid by each agency, and a corporate sponsorship.


  • Employees who have participated in the programs have received promotions, such as five of the participants in the Tomorrow’s Executive Forum who have become chief executives or assistant executives in the past three years.
  • Interns have been hired in permanent jobs by the local governments with which they interned.
  • Local governments in the region, including two county organizations, 36 cities, and a number of special districts, are collaborating on innovative initiatives to address the “retirement wave” challenge.


The counties were a recipient of a Center Workforce Award in 2011.

The Next Gen Silicon Valley Committee, sponsored by the City/County Managers associations of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, brings together senior managers, human resource professionals, emerging leaders, and university representatives in developing programs. Learn more at


Donna Vaillancourt
Human Resources Director
County of San Mateo
455 County Center, 5th Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
[email protected]

Frank Benest
[email protected]