San Francisco Department of Public Health

To Hire Is Human, To Train Divine

Learnit helped the SF DPH develop a winning program for recruiting and upskilling a best-in-class IT department


Talent Development


Industry vertical

Civil Service

The Challenge - A Double Whammy

In a market like San Francisco, with so many established high-tech companies and innovative start-ups offering numerous perks and benefits, competition for talent is tough. If you’re a gov’t agency like the Department of Public Health, how do you compete? You can’t “out bid” for talent and you can’t match the amenities.

On top of that, hiring for civil service can be a tedious, 6 month long process, at best. To succeed, DPH realized that they needed to redesign that process.

Enter Learnit.

The Solution - Train Up

Working closely with the DPH, Learnit developed a new talent development strategy and multi-faceted customized training plan dubbed the 1010 IS Trainee Program. 

The approach was simple, yet revolutionary: Seek and hire different kinds of candidates - those who are inexperienced and under skilled for the job. Then train them.

With the strategy locked, Learnit set to work designing a custom program - a hybrid of in-class training and certifications and customized hands-on experiences with seasoned mentors within the Department of Public Health.

We made sure classes were scaled - first to onboard employees to the program, then to equip them with performance enhancing basics before advancing to more specific systems.

Those that demonstrated professional competence and successfully completed the structured training program became eligible to compete for entry-level positions in the IS Engineer Assistant (1041) and Business Analyst Assistant (1051) classifications.

The Program – The Hard and Soft Stuff

Our training program targeted the fundamental technical skills of Networking, Database, Server, Hardware and Security. “classroom” training was complemented with the invaluable practical experience of rotations with different IT groups and mentors. In order to remain in program, all candidates had to attain Professional IT certifications which helped put them on the path to success at DPH and throughout their career.  

But for candidates to really thrive as part of the DPH team, they would need to acquire a range of soft skills as well. So, we trained candidates in Project Management, Process Improvement, Service Management, Communication, Collaboration as well as Critical Thinking Skills. 

The combination of hard and soft skills served to create a dynamic well-rounded talent pool primed and ready to help support the organization and drive DPH forward. 

Our Theory

We believed that we could upskill candidates in all the right ways and that once they're onboard, gratitude would set in.

As time goes on, both competence and loyalty will grow, employees will like the meaningful job and work environment, and they’ll stay.  

Results - In a word, “Healthy”

We found folks who appeared committed and aligned to DPH culture then gave them a once in a lifetime opportunity to come into IT with none of the typical pre-requisite background necessary of College or IT work experience. Trainees still needed to earn it themselves by showing up, doing the work and getting certified. 

Risky? Yes. But the program worked. 

Of those trainees who started the program 80% completed successfully and were hired and of those hired 94% are still with DPH.  

“Aside from what Learnit does at face value (classes, training, communication), Learnit goes above and beyond to accommodate all of our needs. From helping us hire to customizing a winning program and even a great breakfast, they were great at making everything happen!” — JENNIFER TRAN, -PRINCIPAL BUSINESS ANALYST, SF DPH

In partnership with Learnit, SF DPH has been able to hire more efficiently and fill difficult positions more quickly. 

In short, employee morale is high, turnover is low and the San Francisco Department of Public Health is, well….healthy.