Memo to the next prez: Gen ‘Y’ is ready and willing to serve

Roughly one-third of young adults seriously would consider a career in public service if asked by a parent or the next president of the United States, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Gallup Organization.

Of the respondents, 60 percent under the age of 30 reported that they hadn't been asked ever to consider a job in government. But 33 percent of the same group of millennials said they'd give the idea "a great deal of consideration" if their parents suggested public service as a vocation, while 29 percent reported they'd do the same if the next president called on them to serve.

Additionally, 70 percent of Americans older than 30 said no one had asked them to consider a government job, but 30 percent of those respondents stated they'd be more likely to give the matter serious thought if the country's new commander-in-chief requested it.

The results were released and discussed by six panelists at a May 6 breakfast hosted by the nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government and Gallup.

"This shows what possibilities there are with this new [presidential] transition," said Patricia McGinnis, president of the Council for Excellence in Government. "This is a transition that is more sweeping than we've seen in decades. No incumbent president or vice president is running, and we have new possibilities in Washington."

When asked how appealing a job in public service would be, 70 percent of those ages 18 to 29, and 53 percent older than 30 said "very" or "fairly appealing." Both age groups indicated that the best motivators for considering a public service career would be opportunities for growth and advancement based on performance (51 percent) as well as a flexible schedule and the chance to telecommute (45 percent). Millennials also said student loan forgiveness (27 percent) and continuing education benefits (26 percent) would be strong incentives for a career in government.

When it comes to exploring jobs in the federal government, respondents from both age groups said they would be most likely to look at government Web sites as their primary source of information. Of millennials, 11 percent said they would use search engines like Google and Yahoo to learn about federal jobs, compared with 6 percent of those older than 30.

Still, several panelists said Tuesday that the federal government's current processes for advertising federal jobs and hiring new applicants were too rigid and burdensome, turning off many young applicants.

Adam Lusin, a millennial who is a management analyst at the State Department, said the federal hiring process takes too long, especially when compared to private companies that can hire applicants instantly. He recommended that agencies educate potential applicants on how to navigate the government's hiring process through various sources, including online message boards and blogs and career centers on college campuses.

McGinnis added that all federal agencies could benefit from having direct hiring authority, noting the practice currently is available only to a handful of agencies. "Members of Congress and those who are shaping the rules and regulations need to be in this conversation as well," she said. "Creating this kind of flexibility is going to require a collaborative effort that goes beyond the executive branch."

Still, Warren Wright, managing partner at Gallup, warned against suggesting that the government's sole focus should be on recruiting millennials. "We don't want to leave the impression that we'll give up on anyone over 30," he said.

Elizabeth Kolmstetter, deputy chief human capital officer for the National Intelligence Directorate, said agencies should work to attract workers of all ages, noting that hiring and placing experienced workers into the executive ranks is a relatively new concept to the federal government. She recommended avoiding generational stereotypes, pointing out that government offers attractive benefits -- such as job security, career advancement and training -- to all age groups.

Lusin said the federal government had the mission and values that match the ideals of many millennials, and he encouraged agencies to capitalize on those strengths to attract and retain younger hires. "The type of work agencies do is noble and honorable," he said, "and that's not a message that is all the time communicated to younger millennials."

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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