In the wake of baby boomer retirements and widespread difficulty in recruting top managers to government, the Council for Excellence in Government launched a site today to promot public service as a smart career move. The site will provide talking points and data to help commencement speakers and others promote government careers.
"It is a simple thing that we think could have a lot of impact," council president Patricia McGinnis told the Washington Post's Stephen Barr. According to Barr:
McGinnis said the council will contact members of Congress, governors, mayors and the president's Cabinet to urge them to issue a call to public service at graduations and at their other speaking engagements. "Everyone who speaks wants to issue a few challenges to the audiences, and this is the perfect one for people who have been in public service," she said.
The council, which has about 700 former government executives as members, sponsors fellowships and other programs aimed at enhancing interest and understanding of the government. A 2004 survey conducted for the council found that only 27 percent of young people said they had been asked by their parents, teachers or others to consider government as a job option, down by 11 percentage points from two years earlier.
Reflecting the attitudes of younger people, the site doesn't talk about "careers" in government, just "working" in government. The point is that the up and coming generations fully expect to change jobs and employers multiple times in their lives. The idea of 30 years in government may be more of a turn-off than anything.
McGinnis said she expects to see different career patterns and preferences from the next generation of employees, including more people who come and go from the government to work at nonprofit organizations and in companies.
"That could be a pretty good thing; that brings a broader perspective," she said. "[P]eople are focused on government and the important role of government, and everybody knows that we have to do better. We have an opportunity to make a generational transition over the next few years. The call to young people is to come and shape the government that you will be leading."