Report: Federal workforce shows ‘lack of generational diversity’

The federal government needs to do a better job of attracting college students for employment to address a “lack of generational diversity,” according to a recent analysis.

People cross a street in downtown Washington, DC, on Oct. 17, one day after the deal to reopen the government. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty).
People cross a street in downtown Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17, 2013, one day after the deal to reopen the government. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty).

The Partnership for Public Service noted in a report this month that employees younger than 30 make up only 8.5 percent of the federal workforce, compared to 23.2 percent of the U.S. workforce overall, based on data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Meanwhile, one-quarter of college students in a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers ranked government work as one of their top-three target industries for jobs after graduation, the report said.

The analysis also found that 35 percent of respondents who listed federal employment as their ideal career had begun searching for positions on USAJobs, an online portal for openings in the federal government.

The data suggests that agencies will continue to struggle in attracting students educated in science, technology, engineering and math because of the salary expectations of those individuals, according to the report. Nearly 46 percent of those students expected to earn more than $55,000 per year, a level significantly higher than the starting salary of between $32,000 and $43,000 for most government employees with undergraduate degrees.

The Partnership for Public Service recommended that federal employers do more to highlight federal benefits and opportunities for personal growth in their recruiting efforts, since students indicated they value those attributes more than most others.

The report also said the government should use internships and volunteer opportunities as a way to maintain interest in federal employment.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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