The war for talent is hitting the federal government particularly hard, as more than half a million federal employees will leave government in the next five years. Moreover, the government will need to fill 193,000 mission-critical job vacancies by the end of 2009 in key areas such as national security, public health, safety and law enforcement, and information technology. Considering the high skill levels and experience required to successfully perform these jobs, the federal government must dramatically change its current outreach, recruitment and hiring practices — many of which tend to create barriers to attracting outside talent. The change needs to focus on reaching new sources of talent, including the millions of highly-skilled and experienced older workers who are approaching retirement age, or are already retired, from all sectors of the economy.
To help address these critical talent needs, the Partnership for Public Service launched the FedExperience pilot program with federal agencies, corporate partners, and other stakeholders to match government's critical hiring needs with the talents of experienced, older workers. The good news, according to the Partnership's research, is that there is substantial interest in pursuing federal "encore" employment opportunities among America's tens of millions of baby boomers. Further, these boomers possess the types of skills, experience and commitment our government needs. To take advantage of these interests and skills, the pilot program will explore new and expanded means for government to overcome institutional barriers and tap into the growing talent source of older workers, including the design of specific strategies for marketing federal job opportunities to this talent pool, use of targeted recruitment and streamlined hiring processes to obtain proven talent, and improving orientation, onboarding and retention of mature workers so their contributions will continue into the future.
At the outset, the Partnership is pleased to announce that the Transitions to Government pilot program features a major corporate talent source: IBM. The Partnership, with support from AARP, Civic Ventures and other advocacy groups, will work with IBM and other future private sector partners to create a corporate transition program that identifies, recruits, and successfully hires interested IBM employees and retirees for key jobs in the federal government. Our initial agency partners are the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Energy- Environmental Management and the Department of State, which each have significant mission-critical hiring needs and overlap with the given skill sets of IBM employees. Based on lessons learned from this initial effort, the Partnership will expand its Transitions to Government pilot to other companies and agencies.
IBM, through its Transition to Teaching program, is already a leader in corporate transition programming. Transition to Teaching helps interested employees seek second careers as K-12 math and science teachers in classrooms around the nation to address the critical shortage of qualified instructors. The program gained more momentum last year when Governor Schwarzenegger of California detailed his Encorps program, modeled after IBM's teaching program. Now 11 companies participate in the Governor's Encorps program. Most recently, IBM was tapped by the government of the United Kingdom to help implement a Transition to Teaching program in that country.
Last year, CEO Sam Palmisano announced IBM's new Global Citizen's Portfolio, a suite of programs to help individuals succeed in a globally integrated economy. The portfolio includes new programs such as Matching Accounts for Learning, a first-of-a-kind program launching in July that will match a certain percent of an employees' contribution to the educational classes of their choice, helping to aid in skills needed to pursue a new field. IBM currently spends $650 million on learning and skills development for its 350,000-plus employees around the world. Another program, the "Corporate Service Corps" will send 600 of IBM's future global leaders in small teams to emerging markets to work on tough problems such as economic development and education. The third program is an expansion of the successful Transition to Teaching program. The expanded program will help interested IBM employees who have developed high-demand skills during their time at IBM to move into areas that give back to the community such as government, education and the nonprofit sector. The pilot program with the Partnership for Public Service is a major step in developing the transition assistance tools and capabilities to aid its employees in pursuing new careers in the government.
The FedExperience pilot program launched early fall 2008 and focuses on matching the talent and interests of IBM retirees and employees nearing retirement with mission-critical staffing needs at the Department of Treasury, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Energy, Environmental Management. The Partnership for Public Service will help promote job opportunities at these agencies to IBM employees with matching skill sets and experience; identify opportunities to streamline hiring processes; provide career transition resources, such as how to guides and networking events; encourage flexible work arrangements; and help establish mentoring programs and other employee-friendly onboarding practices.
To help its employees throughout the transition, IBM is committed to working closely with the Partnership to develop and deploy a suite of automated, Web-based tools. These tools will facilitate online learning, networking, and specialized training.
The Partnership strongly believes that increasing federal employment opportunities for older, experienced workers will result in a "win-win-win" situation. Older Americans who want to continue working win by finding meaningful opportunities to use their skills and give back to their country. The federal government will win by creating a new and growing reservoir of talent to help address some of our nation's greatest challenges. And the American people will win by having a federal workforce that is better equipped to do its job.
For more information about this pilot program, please contact us at FedExperience@ourpublicservice.org
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.