January 17, 2008
Contact: Sarah Howe


Washington, D.C. The war for talent is hitting the federal government hard, as more than one-third of the full-time permanent federal workforce gets ready to retire or leave in the next five years, according to the Partnership for Public Service at today’s launch of FedExperience Transitions to Government – an initiative to help match government’s critical hiring needs with the talents of baby boomers looking for encore careers where they can find interesting and challenging work.

At the launch, the Partnership and IBM, a major potential source of talent, announced that they will pilot the Transitions to Government initiative with the U.S. Department of Treasury. The goal is to identify, recruit, and hire interested IBM employees and retirees and match them to key federal government jobs.

Nearly 14,000 mission-critical jobs need to be filled at the U.S. Department of Treasury in the next two years, including 7,950 IRS agents and tax examiners.  Procurement, IT and accounting positions are also on their “most wanted” job list.

Working with AARP, Civic Ventures and other stakeholders, the Partnership and IBM will expand the effort to other agencies and encourage other corporate leaders to join the initiative.

FedExperience is a win-win-win,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president.  “Boomers get their second career where they can find meaningful work, our government gets the talent it needs to fill looming shortages and the American people get a government that has the talent to service its people.”

For IBM, the pilot program represents the next phase of its new Global Citizen’s Portfolio, a suite of programs to help employees succeed in a globally integrated economy.  It will serve as a major step in developing the transition assistance tools and capabilities to aid its employees in pursuing new careers in the government.  This program is an expansion of the company’s successful Transition to Teaching initiative, which has been adopted by other companies and governments.

“Helping individuals develop and sustain their careers in a global economy requires new thinking, new methods and new tools that provide for things such as ongoing training, education and career transition,” said Stanley Litow, vice president of Corporate Citizenship and President of IBM International Foundation. “Based on our Transition to Teaching program we know that these employees can be a great asset – they bring their lifetime of career experience and share their passion in jobs that give back to their community.”

At the FedExperience initiative launch, the Partnership released A Golden Opportunity: Recruiting Baby Boomers Into Government, a report that lays out the case for, and barriers to, connecting baby boomers with federal job opportunities.

The primary recommendation of the report is to create a model for the federal government, which spurred the Transitions to Government pilot project launched today with IBM. Based on a nationwide survey of older workers age 50 to 65, report findings include:

  • Older, experienced workers are planning to continue working…and for quite a while. Seventy-one percent of workers age 55 – 59 surveyed reported they plan to work for at least six years; 29 percent, 11 years or more.
  • Old workers’ skills align with government’s talent needs. Many occupational areas where government currently hires higher percentages of older workers – IT, engineering, legal and accounting – are the same areas in which federal agencies say they will have mission critical openings.
  • Older workers are interested in government service. Fifty-three percent of older workers surveyed are at least somewhat interested in federal government work -- of those, 26 percent are extremely or very interested. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed agree that “there are good jobs for people like me in the federal government.”
  • Experienced workers who enter government service like it. Most experienced workers who recently entered government in mid and senior-level positions prefer federal service to their previous jobs.

The report flags five key barriers the federal government must address in order to successfully tap older, experienced workers to fill mission critical job openings. The barriers include:

  • Lack of knowledge.  Only 11 percent of older Americans are knowledgeable about government job opportunities.
  • Negative Perceptions. Sixty-six percent of respondents believe the federal government is ineffective in solving problems today and helping people.
  • Isolation.  Only 50 percent of federal job openings are open to nongovernment candidates.
  • A broken hiring process.  Fifty-seven percent of older Americans believe the federal government application process is fairly or very difficult compared with other jobs.
  • Mutual skepticism. Large segments of the federal workforce and new employees coming from outside government are skeptical of one another.

“We are excited to see federal agencies focus on this talent pool as an answer to their hiring needs,” said Deborah Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP. “This cohort has a lot to offer our nation in terms of energy, experience and education.”

The federal government offers many flexibilities of interest to older workers, including flexible work schedules, job sharing, increased vacation time for experienced new hires, and teleworking arrangements. 

Additional facts about government work of interest to the older, experienced job seeker include:

  • There are jobs for every interest and skill, with more than 2,000 separate job categories at 15 cabinet-level agencies, 20 large and 80 small agencies.
  • Jobs are available all over the world. About 86 percent of federal jobs are located outside of Washington, D.C. and close to 50,000 are stationed abroad.  Areas with highest number of federal workers include New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Norfolk-Virginia Beach and Los Angeles.
  • The federal government values diversity. About 17.6 percent of all workers are African-American, 7.6 percent are Hispanic, 5.2 percent are Asian/Pacific Islanders and 1.9 percent are Native American.

To find federal job opportunities go to the Office of Personnel’s website

The FedExperience report, A Golden Opportunity: Recruiting Baby Boomers Into Government, was generously funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

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The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.