Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Nearly half of the city’s non-sworn employees are expected to reach retirement age by 2018, creating an opportunity to recruit the next wave of promising, young city workers in the coming years, Controller Ron Galperin said Wednesday.

More than a third, or 10,863 out of 29,679 full-time employees in the 21 largest city departments — not including sworn police and firefighters — will be eligible for retirement starting next year, according to the report using payroll figures.

In three years, the number of retirement-eligible employees will grow to 13,794, which is about 46 percent of the total civilian workforce, Galperin said.

City workers can retire at age 55 if they have been with the city 10 or more years, or at 60 years old if not.

The city’s Information Technology Agency has the highest percentage of workers expected to reach retirement age in 2018 at about 58 percent or 252 eligible workers. But the largest number of retirement eligible employees will be in the Public Works and the Water and Power departments, according to Los Angeles’ controller.

The Public Works Department, which handles street repairs, trash collection and city infrastructure construction projects, will have 2,221 workers eligible to retire by 2018, while the Water and Power Department will see 4,336 of its workers reach retirement age.

Galperin said he views the city’s aging workforce as “both a challenge and a series of great opportunities.”

“While we’re in danger of losing the expertise that so many of our experienced employees have developed over the course of their careers, we also have the chance to develop skills and mentoring programs to ensure that the city workforce is equipped to meet the needs of tomorrow,” he said.

In a letter included with his report, Galperin notably suggests that the city consider basing its workers’ pay on merit or performance, a practice that is rare in public sector or civil service jobs. Giving raises based on merit has only in recent years been tested or proposed for teachers and in some federal jobs.

Galperin wrote that city leaders “should explore with the labor unions that represent its workforce how it might incorporate elements of merit pay into the way that city workers are compensated, giving them financial incentives for outstanding performance.”

City employee pay raises are currently based on seniority, promotions and the specific skills or certificates that are acquired.

Galperin’s report and his suggestions come as the city is gearing up to begin hiring again in earnest, after emerging from a multi-year hiring freeze implemented due to the recent economic downturn.

Galperin urged city department officials to create succession plans, which Personnel Department officials confirmed Wednesday they have already started doing.

“Mayor (Eric) Garcetti has required that general managers make succession planning a high priority and work with the personnel department to develop plans for their departments,” according to a Personnel Department statement.

The department has so far trained 52 analysts in 32 city departments to develop the succession plans, which will be posted to a website .

— Wire reports 

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