It’s no surprise to anyone that the federal workforce is aging. But what’s alarming is the lack of younger talent. Many agencies are looking for ways to recruit new hires earlier in their career. The benefit of these younger recruits not only lowers the number of retirement-eligible employees, it also can bring a new way to look at problems and lead to small and big changes within organizations.

In the President’s Management Agenda, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has a heavy focus on early-career recruitment. While most agree that young employees are able to bring in a fresh perspective, that doesn’t mean that the office environment is actually open to change. But Pam Coleman, the Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for performance and personnel management explained that the digital natives of the next generation are willing to take chances with technology and find different solutions.

The millennial generation (now mostly in their thirties) was the first generation to start growing up with computers at home. They have impacted how we use the internet today. However, the younger generations have grown up in a digital age that has changed dramatically from when even millennials were children.

This natural affinity for technology and the ability to apply and understand different technologies quickly set them apart from other generations in the workforce. They also are often able to adapt to changes and work to find better solutions having grown up in a world where nothing is ever the same for very long.

Early Career Recruiting Strategies to Build a Federal Pipeline

All these advantages have led to changes to the federal recruitment pipeline overall. The President Management Agenda’s first strategy is heavily focused on hiring early-career talent and interns. “We’re coordinating with a lot of interested groups to better understand the current data, identifying opportunities to increase the number of interns, transition more interns to full-time employees, and have more paid interns,” Coleman said.

The White House recently announced they would start paying their interns for the first time. To help not only recruit younger employees but also to help bring in students who once could not afford to participate in an unpaid internship program.

These changes are also focused on diversity. Changing the landscape of the workforce not only in age but in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility will help change the way these agencies will address future challenges.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is currently working on a government effort to hire more diverse technologists, according to Toni Benson, CISA’s cyber and education training lead.

Last October, a $2 million initiative was awarded to Cyber Warrior and NPower. They are working to help strengthen equitable recruitment programs for CISA. And they are starting the recruiting at the training level, bringing in new talent at the earliest stage when they are considering a future career. “We’re really looking at how we can help cultivate talent, not necessarily just to benefit the federal government, but the whole ecosystem,” said Benson.

And with a cybersecurity job shortage predicted for the future industry, it is a welcome program that helps not only bring in more diversity but also prepares for the future world we will be living in with more talented candidates.

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Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019 she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military. In 2020, she was published as a collaborative author in Brave Women Strong Faith. And in 2021, she launched a YouTube channel to help young women answer their questions about military life, Girl’s Guide to the Military. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.