Demand and supply: Assessing the capacity of MPA programs to satisfy the growing need for professional management in local government

This article addresses concerns expressed by members of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) regarding whether the supply of qualified local government managers will keep pace with the future demand for this occupation. The authors developed several important observations, which are based on decades of experience with a Master of Public Administration(MPA) program focused on local government management, plus strategic planning experience in over 100 local governments. First, it is likely that the impending retirement of the Baby Boom generation of city managers will cause some supply shortages of professional managers in specific geographical regions of the country. Second, increases in the number of professionally managed cities creates the probability that some municipalities, due to their lack of associational attractiveness, may experience difficulty in generating sufficient pools of quality applicants. We suggest that MPA programs continue to nurture communication and relationships with local governments that will lead to specific mutual benefits. For instance, MPA programs benefit from the availability of practitioner speakers and student internships and, in turn, local governments benefit from the creation of a pipeline that provides a continual stream of quality applications.

Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles