Are the “young invincibles” making a huge mistake by turning up their noses at federal job opportunities?
That’s a question worth exploring in light of two reports out on Tuesday: One shows that many millennials are growing disenchanted with government work. The other is a dreary examination of the job preferences and prospects for young Americans 18 to 34-year old – a once optimistic age cohort that has taken a beating in the aftermath of the worst recession of modern times.
Despite a youthful surge of interest in the government after President Obama’s first historic election, federal employment of young people is tailing off and many millennials are leaving government service, according to The Washington Post.
Government figures show the share of federal workers under the age of 30 dropped to seven percent, the lowest point in nearly a decade. The Post says that many federal agencies and departments are clamoring for digitally savvy young people to replace retiring baby boomers, but are having trouble finding them. Overall, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce is younger than 30 – or more than three times the proportion that holds down federal jobs.
White House budget office personnel experts tell the Post they are increasingly distressed about the government’s youthful brain drain and are doing everything they can to lure more young people into the federal bureaucracy.
But that’s not easy given a raft of developments that have discouraged or scared away the millennials – including last year’s government shutdown, periodic furloughs and pay freezes. What’s more, the federal personnel system is extraordinarily slow and cumbersome, and it has discouraged many from seeking employment or trying to get a promotion—especially those with college degrees who can find jobs in the private sector with far more flexibility and a corporate culture that’s more appealing.
Still, all of that couldn’t be any worse than the realities for undereducated millennials who lack the verbal and technical skills to succeed in the workplace. So says The Future of Millennial Jobs, a new report by the Young Invincibles.
The study outlines a rather depressing job picture for those Americans and urges government policymakers to work in 2015 to align higher education with the workforce to try to spur economic growth in the years ahead. If the present demographic trends hold up, millennials by 2020 will make up about 50 percent of the work force, the group says.
The study suggests that despite society’s mind-boggling array of technological advances, young people today have less to cheer about in terms of employment opportunities and advancement than people their age 50 years ago, at the dawn of the computer age.
The report says, “The optimistic vision of economic prosperity has been tarnished by severe economic retraction, industry shifts, and ironically, lost jobs due to increased technical efficiency.”
For those young adults fortunate enough to have found employment, their jobs are disproportionately more likely to be part-time, the study shows. About 25 percent of employed 18 to 34-year-olds are working only a part-time positions, contrasted with one in six adults over 34-years old. Of course, 18-22 year olds are either in college and therefore working part time, or are undereducated and possibly working two jobs.
What’s more, employers “have shifted towards hiring more part-time and temporary workers in lieu of investing in full-time employees,” the report states. Although contract workers comprise a relatively small sector of the labor market, contract workers have also increased four-fold in the past three decades.
Career Builder’s annual jobs forecast claims that 42 percent of employers planned to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014. On the positive side, over 40 percent of companies said they planned to convert some of those positions into full time positions down the road.
“Yet the trends are alarming for young adults who are starting their careers with fewer options than before,” the report concludes.
With all of that to contend with, a government post many not look so bad after all.
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