How Do We Retain the Next Generation of Government Leaders?
A high quit rate combined with the fact that over 45% of the federal government’s workforce is over the age of 50 increases the need for agencies to think about how they will fill the void that will be created within the next 10-15 years when older workers retire.
OPM data shows that employees under the age of 30 only make up about 6% of the federal workforce. The logical place to start filling the coming federal worker shortage is to develop these younger employees.
So how do agencies nurture and grow that talent pool? Some agencies have specific programs for entry-level employees, like the Presidential Management Fellowship program or the Pathways Interns program. In addition to these programs, federal managers and future managers should look for alternatives outside of their agencies to develop their young employees.
Another option is The Next Generation of Government Summit (NextGen), a two-day event co-hosted by Young Government Leaders and GovLoop on August 9-10 in DC. This summit focuses on inspiring government innovation through training and leadership development focused on the SES Executive Core Qualifications and has attracted over 5,000 local, state, and federal employees from across the United States over the past 8 years.
The summit not only develops participants’ leadership skills, but it also shows young employees how to lead from their current positions within their agencies. In addition to networking with like-minded individuals from other agencies, past participants have developed new mentoring relationships, increased their knowledge of project management, meeting facilitation, and critical conversation skills, and formed employee resource groups within various agencies specifically dedicated to carrying on the mission of NextGen throughout the year.
There are very few organizations that specifically cater to building up younger employees’ skills so they can make the leap into supervisory and leadership positions. Organizations like Young Government Leaders, GovLoop, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and Generation Now all work to create a community of young government employees while providing professional development to younger audiences through programs and training summits. NextGen is all about these emerging leaders coming together as a community.
However, these organizations, some which are completely volunteer-based, can only do so much. It is crucial for the federal government to create a cohesive program to address the professional development needs of young employees because they will be the ones to fill the workforce and skill gaps that will be created in the next 10-15 years and lead the federal government into the future. And in the meantime, these agencies should send their rising talent to the NextGen Summit.
Jovanka Balac is the national President for Young Government Leaders, an association of young leaders across the federal government seeking to educate, inspire, and transform, as well as serve as a coordinated voice, for current and future leaders in government. Jovanka works as a project manager for a federal agency, served as a Youth Development Advisor in Romania with the United States Peace Corps, and worked to get every impoverished child enrolled in school in Romania with an NGO called OvidiuRo.
Steve Ressler is a serial public sector entrepreneur. He is the Founder of GovLoop.com, the “Knowledge Network for Government” which connects and fosters collaboration among over 250,000+ members of the government community. Currently, Steve is the President of Callyo, the leading mobile communication SaaS platform for public safety working across 100,000+ law enforcement officers and 10,000+ agencies. Mr. Ressler is also the co-founder of Young Government Leaders.
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