Campus May Face Staff Shortages in Next Decade
Retirements Could Mean 60 Percent Turnover in Next 15 Years
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
The Berkeley campus could face a staff shortage in the next 10 to 15 years, staff members told the board of regents at an Oct. 8 meeting at Berkeley.
"We want to give you a snapshot of who we are and share some of the real concerns we have for the future," Kathy Day-Huh, chairwoman of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, told the regents. "We are facing issues that threaten the distinction of our university."
One of the more pressing issues is a possible staff shortage due to the retirement of more than 60 percent of staff in the next 10 to 15 years.
According to figures provided by the Staff Affirmative Action office, 37 percent of career staff are between the ages of 41 and 50, while 25 percent are older than 51.
The difficulties of attracting skilled and talented workers in today's competitive job market and increasing the representation of minorities and women in top-level positions were also discussed.
"Minorities make up 43 percent of career staff, which is pretty good," said Edith Ng, director of the staff affirmative action office. "But only 15 percent of executive positions and 22 percent of senior management positions are held by minorities."
And while women make up nearly 60 percent of career staff, Ng said only 18 percent hold executive-level positions.
Ng added that historically, most employees spend their whole careers at Berkeley. "There's a lot of heart here," she said of commitment among staff. "However, the university is no longer perceived as an employer of choice because of fierce competition in the job market."
The inability to attract the best and brightest staff to the university, according to physics professor Seamus Davis, could affect the university's high level of academic excellence.
"Be it classroom scheduling, balancing budgets, purchasing lab equipment or posting exam results, purchasing lab equipment or posting exam results, staff make huge contributions to this campus in quiet and unobtrusive ways," said Davis. "Often they don't get the attention they deserve."
"We need to devise strategies to retain a highly-skilled and diverse workforce," said Ella Wheaton, staff ombudsperson.
Among the areas that need attention, said Wheaton, are competitive salaries and benefits; responding in a timely fashion to changing staffing needs; articulating values that encourage diversity and inclusion; investing in staff through training and development; giving staff a voice at all levels of the institution; and promoting a culture of civility on campus with regards to conflict resolution.
In response, Regent Lawrence Coleman announced that a report on improving the working relationship between faculty and staff, jointly written by the Council of UC Staff Organizations and systemwide Academic Council, has been approved by both parties and soon will be forwarded to President Richard Atkinson for signature. From there, the authors hope to have the document sent to each chancellor in the system.
"This report will help set the tone for how faculty and staff work together in partnership," said Day-Huh. "We want to have it become part of the campus culture."
"The regents' are most appreciative of the inputs of staff," said John Davies, regents chairman, as he closed the meeting. "But sometimes, we need to be reminded."
The panel, which included members of the Berkeley Staff Assembly, the staff ombudsperson, a faculty member and other representatives, addressed the regents' in Doe Library's Morrison Room.