OPM unveils new federal career models

The Office of Personnel Management unveiled a new program of nontraditional career models this week. Dubbed New Career Patterns, the program is designed to attract young federal workers and others. It will offer alternative career options, such as telework, nonstandard hours and flexible workdays.

“OPM's Career Patterns initiative is an entirely new approach to hiring and supporting a 21st-century work force," said OPM Director Linda Springer, in a statement issued this week. "This transition in our thinking and marketing to the talent pool is particularly critical as we meet the challenge of the pending retirement wave," she said.

The retirement wave refers to the large number of baby boomers who will be reaching retirement age in the next few years. At the press conference, Springer described several scenarios of employees working under the new work rules, including that of a young married couple who use flexible working hours to alternate between working in the office and working at home where the parents can care for a child.

“The federal government needs to rethink its hiring model and move away from simply a career model to think more think more about a career-builder model,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that encourages careers in public service. “The [OPM] career patterns are a very smart way of thinking about some of the competitive advantages the federal government has for attracting that top talent," he said.

By Jan. 1, 2007, OPM will require federal officials to report on which jobs in their agencies could be redefined to include flexibilities available under the New Career Patterns program.

Springer also announced a marketing strategy to promote the new career pattens. Currently, OPM is running an extended advertising campaign to attract new federal employees. On June 4, it began phase two of that campaign, a two-week advertising blitz in Mississippi, Iowa and Illinois.

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