Government is hiring more senior-level workers from outside

Agencies are hiring more upper-level employees from outside the federal government, a new survey by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board found. It’s a trend that will likely continue as more workers in General Schedule grades 12 to 15 retire and must be replaced, according to the report.

In fiscal 2005, the government hired more than 12,000 new upper-level workers — 39 percent more than the 8,600 employees of the same rank hired in fiscal 1990, preceding the workforce downsizing of the 1990s. The senior-level specialists, analysts, supervisors and managers coming from the private sector play critical roles in maintaining the effective and efficient operation of government, MSPB researchers said.

The findings also suggest that government service has strengths that government can leverage to compete for highly skilled workers. For example, new hires found government work more challenging than their nongovernment jobs, and they liked their agencies’ flexible work arrangements, including telework and alternative work schedules. In addition, they viewed their agencies as more ethical than their previous employers.

On the other hand, researchers found that agencies should take a more multifarious approach to attracting a top-flight workforce, rather than simply posting vacancies on USAJOBS, the government’s job-search portal. More new hires in the survey relied on word-of-month to learn about job opportunities than USAJOBS, the report says.

Researchers recommended that recruitment efforts include other announcement and publicity tools to attract new employees, in addition to USAJOBS.

The report, “In Search of Highly Skilled Workers: a Study of the Hiring of Upper Level Employees from Outside the Federal Government,” is the second in a series of MSPB studies on attracting and hiring new government employees. The agency issued a report on entry-level hires in February.

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