The US Government Talent Challenge

The US Government Talent Challenge

The US Government Talent ChallengeJohn Flato and Bob Lavingna report on ERE that although millennials are attracted to public service, the government faces some major challenges. The government and public servants receives a lot of bad press and criticism from the country’s citizens, regarding budgets, the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector. Yet at the same time, Americans expect their government and public officers to solve some major issues, such as revitalizing the economy, keeping the public safe, ending the war on terrorism, offering affordable healthcare, eradicating poverty and so on. The challenge is thus two-fold: the public sector is to increase and improve performance to make the American public happy while at the same time cut resources to become more cost effective.

Yet the challenge doesn’t end there. To worsen the situation, the public sector will face what Flato and Lavingna call a “retirement tsunami”. They highlight some alarming facts: the average age of government employees is 45.3 and 47 for federal employees, and 60% of federal employees are over the age of 45. According to the US Government Accountability Office some 30% of the two million federal employees will be able to retire in the next three years. Although government agencies are expected to downsize, they will  most certainly face a shortage of skilled and intelligent people, which will make it difficult to overcome some of the countries most pressing issues. In other words, it is imperative that the public sector puts in place a long-term succession and hiring plan for the coming three to five years to counter the tide of people leaving.

On this point, the reporters point out that public sector agencies will need to develop a comprehensive employer branding strategy to ensure they are able to attract, recruit and retain future top talent. They refer to Universum’s data that reveals the career goals of students and what undergraduates find attractive in prospective employers. Interestingly, five of the top 10 ideal employers in the list are federal government agencies (FBI, National Institute of Health, NASA, Department of State, and Peace Corps). As Flato and Lavingna comment, this may be due to the fact that the public sector offers things that students find attractive, such as secure employment, work-life balance, and the opportunity to make a difference.

Despite the fact that government agencies hold many employer attributes that undergrads consider attractive, Flato and Lavingna emphasize that the competition still remains fierce with the private sector and that government agencies remain just one option among many for college graduates. Rightly so, Flato and Lavingna conclude that government agencies must dampen the negative publicity that tends to surround them and emphasize the positive aspects of working for the public service, that is if they are to secure their future talent pipeline now and into the future.

Flato, Johna & Lavingna, Bob (2014). Millennials Are Attracted to Public Service, But Government Needs to Deliver. Ere.net. [Online] Available from: http://www.ere.net/2014/01/22/millennials-are-attracted-to-public-service-but-government-needs-to-deliver/ [Accessed on 23 January 2014]