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Readers' reactions: Why college grads snub government careers

Why aren’t college grads more interested in public-sector jobs? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a mere 2.3 percent of polled students plan on working for the federal government. Dr. Paul Light, a government reform expert, offered his insight on why college grads turn their backs to government careers:

“The federal government, I think, is an employer of last resort, and generally, a negligent employer,” he said at a recent presentation held at the Partnership for Public Service. “Not enough investment in training and not enough opportunity to grow, issues of fairness, promotion, pay, process – issues of cowardice in the disciplinary process.”

Reader Erich Darr said it was hardly shocking why the younger generation sees government as a final option. “Isn't it a surprise that young people consider the federal government the employer of last resort, when the civil service has become the whipping boy of the administration and Congress?” he asked.

Listing the challenges federal employees have faced in recent years, another reader questioned why anyone would find the government an appealing employer. “Let’s see, pay freeze - possibly indefinitely, Congress says feds don't do anything ... and feds are reason for deficit, and other clueless comments from various ignorant people, etc., etc. Gee, why wouldn't anyone jump to work in that environment?” Virginia asked.

But those young people given the chance to pursue a government career, “want to do, to make, to solve, to take pride in and to experience the sense of accomplishment and hard work that doing a good job entails,” SPMayor wrote. However, “we are robbing them of those opportunities and then want to know why the cupboard is bare,” the reader added.

Offering his/her insight as a recent college grad, one reader said lack of information about federal jobs was one of the reasons a public-sector career never was a priority, as well as the perception that the government isn’t the most happening place for young folks.

“The young people of today want to work at companies like Google and Facebook,” the reader said. “Smart energetic young people want to work with other smart energetic young people. So, as you can imagine, the public sector didn’t seem like anything to get excited about.”

But after a year of unsuccessful job hunting in the private industry, that reader took a job at a federal agency, which was “a great choice – a great way to get a career started and build practical experience,” he/she said.

“In today’s economic climate, jobs are thin,” that reader continued. “If the public sector is worried about securing highly educated young talent for the future, they need to meet the students half way and at least let them know that there are good government jobs available.”

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Feb 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM


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