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Agencies not capitalizing on students' interest

Mar. 18, 2014 - 04:57PM   |  
By MICHAEL HARDY   |   Comments

Less than a tenth of federal employees are under 30 years old, giving a new sense of urgency to the government’s need to attract and keep young talent, according to the Partnership for Public Service.

A new Partnership issue brief, published in conjunction with the National Association of Colleges and Employers, shows that 23.2 percent of the U.S. workforce overall is under 30, while only 8.5 percent of federal employees are. However, many students are interested in the government as a potential employer, far more than actually pursue government careers.

“To compete with the private and nonprofit sectors for the brightest students, federal managers and recruiters need a nuanced understanding of college students’ interest in, and perceptions of, federal employment,” reads the report.

The Partnership drew its conclusions from NACE’s 2013 Student Survey, which asked students about their employment plans after graduation. A total of 37,874 students at 646 colleges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part.

The survey suggested that many students actually are attracted to federal employment – nearly a quarter ranked government (federal, state or local) as one of their three top target industries, yet only 2 percent planned to enter federal service.

The percentage of students planning a federal career is highest among former federal interns, the survey found, with 21.2 percent listing government as an ideal employer and 12 percent planning to enter federal service.

These and other factors that the survey revealed led the Partnership to make several recommendations:

■Strengthen understanding of the federal job application process. More than a third of the students who reported they were actively looking for federal work had not used USAJobs.gov, possibly because they did not fully understand how to find and apply for federal jobs.

■Hone recruitment efforts to highlight the job attributes and benefits students most desire.

■Use internships and volunteer opportunities to maintain interest in federal employment.

■Foster a workplace culture attractive to the next generation of employees.

■Use agency mission to attract science, technology, engineering and math talent. ■

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