Partnership to feds: Hire retired private-sector workers

The Partnership for Public Service launched an initiative today to persuade the federal government that retiring private-sector employees could be part of the solution to the coming wave of retirements from the federal workforce.

Many older Americans who have been successful in a private-sector career retire with plenty of energy left to work, said Max Stier, president of the partnership.

"We're here to prove that Rocky Balboa is not the only 60-year-old ready for a new challenge," he said.

Projections show that as much as one-third of the federal workforce may retire by 2010. Meanwhile, younger employees are not joining the government in large enough numbers to make up the loss, Stier said.

There are obstacles, however. The federal hiring process is difficult, and it often takes months for applicants to get word from hiring agencies. In addition, many private-sector employees don't think of the government as a place for a second career.

"I was in a heavily federally regulated industry, and the opportunities [of working for the government] never occurred to me," said John Emens, who retired from an investment banking career in 2002 at age 57 and joined the U.S. Export-Import Bank, where he is now senior vice president of small business.

The effort, however, is not a federal initiative. The partnership and similar groups devoted to the federal workforce will need to raise awareness among agencies and the 9 million Americans older than 55 who might want a postretirement venue to continue using their skills, Stier said.

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