Not Many College Students Are Interested in Federal Service

hxdbzxy/Shutterstock.com

Less than 6 percent of college students list the federal government as their ideal career, according to a new survey.

The federal government already has a dearth of young employees, with workers younger than 30 making up just 8.5 percent of its workforce, compared to 23 percent of the country’s overall workforce.

Federal agencies can improve their recruiting efforts by engaging college students and helping them navigate the application process for federal jobs, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s analysis of data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Even among students who said federal employment was an ideal career, 35 percent said they did not use USAJobs.gov in their job search. Less than 9 percent of all college students searched on USAJobs, compared to more than 17 percent who used LinkedIn.

Interest in public-sector work has declined across all levels of government, falling for the fifth consecutive year to just 5.4 percent who said they were planning to go directly from college to a government job. That number was just 2 percent for federal positions.

About 12 percent of students who have interned within the federal government planned to go directly into a federal job, and 21 percent said it was an ideal career.

In addition to recruiting deficiencies, lower starting salaries inhibited federal agencies from attracting top candidates. A majority of students surveyed said they expected to make more than $40,000 in their first job, though the Partnership estimated starting salaries for college graduates in the federal sector to range from $32,000 to $42,000.

This problem was amplified for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, PPS found, and agencies will likely “continue to struggle to meet salary expectations for STEM talent.”

To help overcome the pay obstacle, federal agencies should emphasize their generous benefits packages and employees’ ability to grow within the agency, which students ranked very highly among factors they consider when job searching. Agencies must then follow through on that promise, PPS said, by improving recognition of good work and ensuring skills development throughout their employees’ careers.

The report, based on a survey of 37,874 students across the country, found students who studied political science or history, environmental science and foreign language were most likely to pursue a career in federal service. Those majoring in education, visual and performing arts, health care, English and business were among the least likely to list federal government as their ideal career.

Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of college students who selected federal service as their ideal career by major: 

(Image via hxdbzxy/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.