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Let Young Feds Solve the Government Demographic Crisis

Government Demographic crisis

Changing Demographics via Flickr by Knoll Inc, CC BY-NC-ND, 2.0

GovExec recently reported that the IRS sees a looming demographics crisis caused by low recruitment of younger workers coupled with an ever-growing share of its workforce eligible for retirement: 40% by 2018.  As Commissioner Koskinen put it, “…if we don’t have enough young workers in the pipeline, the IRS will have great difficulty developing the next group of leaders it needs 5 or 10 years down the road.”

This isn’t just one agency’s challenge.  According to OPM, less than 1% of the federal workforce was under the age of 25 in 2013, and approximately 6.5% was under 30.  Analysis by Deloitte suggests this isn’t because younger workers aren’t interested in federal service, but because there haven’t been enough jobs available to the average young person interested in federal service.  To make matters worse, the wave of retirements may start sooner than 2019.  The GAO reports that 30% of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire by September 2017 and that attrition from the federal workforce has been increasing since 2012.  

In searching for tomorrow’s leaders to carry on the valuable work our federal agencies perform and to secure the legacy today’s leaders will leave behind, agencies must seek new solutions.  Luckily, they have a valuable and often overlooked asset in this quest: their existing young workforce.  No one understands young potential recruits like their peers inside the government.  It’s like having a free market research group inside your agency.  This is a group of people who are passionate about serving the public and craving opportunities to make a difference.  Agencies can use them to help fill the pipeline of future leaders.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons Millennials leave government is because they feel disconnected and their careers are stagnant. With that in mind, here are three potential solutions to resolve the looming government demographic crisis involving recruitment and retention:

  1. Have Employee Resource Groups (ERG) catering Millennials. Research has shown, that ERGs are a proven way not to only raising cultural awareness but to increase retention.
  2. Develop a portfolio of learning and development opportunities encompassing mentoring, coaching and leadership development programs. Millennials crave constant learning. Limited budgets hinder the growth of young employees needing training to move their career forward.
  3. Highlight programs that benefit work-life balance. In other words, embrace the motto work hard play even harder.

But it won’t be enough to change the way young people are recruited or the programs agencies implement to keep them engaged.  Agencies must also be open to changing how they think about jobs, career paths, and workplace culture in order to ensure that there is a constant flow of new ideas and fresh blood revitalizing the federal government.  Federal agencies, like all workplaces, are beginning to feel the influence of new generations on their standard practices.  This is a chance to start a dialogue with young workers and future recruits. The agencies and leaders who are most open to new ideas will be the ones that succeed at sustaining their workforce of the future. As a result, agencies will be able to successfully continue implementing their mission. In addition, they will be at the forefront of building a better model of federal service for employees of all ages, which will be a competitive advantage when seeking top talent.

As President of Young Government Leaders (YGL), I’ve had the privilege of talking to many of my peers inside and outside our organization.  I’ve heard their passion for service, their enthusiasm for the mission, sense of innovation and creativity, and their burning desire to stand up and be counted.  When we bring them together for trainings, events, and conferences, we hear one question above all else: “How can I make a difference?” Allowing us to lead the way in resolving this demographic crisis is one answer to that question.  The federal government has many challenges to face in the years ahead and all those we serve are counting on us to find a way forward.  We won’t let them down.

This piece was written by Joseph Maltby with contributions from Miguel Joey Aviles.

Miguel Joey Aviles is the President of Young Government Leaders, the only 501 (c)3 non-profit professional organization founded by, and led by, young government employees. He is an emerging leader advocate and works as a Program Manager in Leadership Development at a federal agency.

Joseph Maltby is the YGL Research and Advocacy Director, overseeing research for the organization as well as helping YGL use the results to inform the public about the interests and needs of the next generation in government.  He is a change management consultant for a federal agency.

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What the Future of Human Capital Looks Like

Deloitte released the results of its 2016 Annual Human Capital Trends Survey and the revelations were all too familiar. As it turns out, government employees are facing almost the same challenges as our private sector counterparts. Here were some of the highlights.

The private sector is also concerned about demographics.

From the report: “Millennials now make up more than half the workforce, and they bring high expectations for a rewarding, purposeful work experience, constant learning and development opportunities, and dynamic career progression. At the same time, Baby Boomers working into their 70s and 80s are being challenged to adapt to new roles as mentors, coaches, and often subordinates to junior colleagues.”

There have been hundreds of blog posts and articles about generations in the government workforce over the past few years and OPM covers the topic as part of last year’s REDI workforce roadmap. This is happening everywhere.

We may soon be facing more technological change at work. 

Technologies such as mobile devices, 3D printing, sensors, cognitive computing, and the Internet of Things are changing the way companies design, manufacture, and deliver almost every product and service, while digital disruption and social networking have changed the way organizations hire, manage, and support people.”

While the private sector embraced technological change, government remained mostly in the dark ages. The resistance to change however is slowly crumbling, therefore expect to see the same technologies now impacting corporate life appear in government offices over the next 5-10 years.

Career paths are changing for everyone, but faster in the private sector.

The days when a majority of workers could expect to spend a career moving up the ladder at one company are over. Young people anticipate working for many employers and demand an enriching experience at every stage. This leads to expectations for rapid career growth, a compelling and flexible workplace, and a sense of mission and purpose at work.”

Government employees stay longer in their jobs, nearly twice as long according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that is shortening, especially as the public sector workforce gets younger. As people move around and as their expectations change, will government professional development programs keep up? The private sector is struggling, with half of executives surveyed saying their companies aren’t ready to meet leadership needs.

Employee engagement matters everywhere.

Human Capital Trends

Top 10 Trends (Courtesy of Deloitte University Press)

“Last year, ‘culture and engagement’ ranked as the most important issue overall. This year…both [culture and engagement] placed near the top of the importance list, with 86 percent citing culture as an important or very important issue.”

Just as it was on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the private sector employees also felt that employee engagement within the workplace was important and will remain relevant for years to come. As such, the younger employees in both private and public sectors will be playing a crucial role in shaping a new work culture for the future.

This article was written by Joseph Maltby.

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Why I Joined YGL

Why I joined YGL

Pondering What Lies Ahead, Image via Flickr by Rick Phillips, CC BY-SA 2.0

I first heard about YGL from an ex-colleague just as I was starting my new career. The details she gave me were vague but it was enough to pique my curiosity. I researched the site and ended up signing up for the newsletter. Couldn’t hurt right? After all, the concept that it was an organization filled with young professionals working in federal government greatly appealed to me. Little did I know that me signing up to receive the YGL newsletter will eventually lead to me becoming its editor.

In all honesty, the primary reason I joined YGL was to make friends. I was (and still am to an extent) very new to federal government and to the Washington, D.C., metro so I wanted to connect with people my own age that understood what it is like to work for the government. It wasn’t long after I started my government career when I realized that life in a federal agency was a completely new ball game. It was particularly challenging for Millennials like me so I sought to find teammates who not only shared the same interests, but also have the same forward thinking attitudes.

The second was to widen my professional network and YGL seemed like a great place to start. I identified with being young, both in age and career level within government, and I always thought of myself as a natural leader. What I liked most was YGL’s pitch about providing “a voice to aspiring government leaders.” It signaled to me that this was an organization that welcomes change and isn’t afraid of evolving. The career advancement opportunities were aplenty too. Finally, the membership was free. I weighed the pros and cons of joining and the decision, really, was a no-brainer.

I’ve only been on the YGL leadership board since December of 2015. Despite that short tenure I can honestly say that the rewards have exceeded my expectations. Not only have I met plenty of interesting folks, I became friends with some of them too. In addition to expanding my social network, I’ve also picked up tips about organizational management, leadership, and communications that I began to apply within my own agency. The results are encouraging thus far proving once and for all that any empowered “young” person in government has the capability to facilitate change, a little bit at a time.

What’s your YGL story? Share your own motivations for joining the organization and let us know your personal and professional success stories.

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Keys to Navigating the Business Environment

This lecture will provide guidance and strategies for young professionals as you strive to develop the knowledge and techniques that will make you successful in navigating the challenging business environment in the Public and Private sectors. It takes you from where you are now through the next steps of your career, covering topics such as personal branding, goal setting, the recognition of business and personal agendas, and the interplay of all these within the formal and informal structures of an organization. The concepts shared are easily relatable, enabling you to develop your own strategies as you prepare to advance in the business environment. By providing you with tools to recognize the impact of competitive forces on your plans and identifying key tactical steps that you can take to ensure success, the highly interactive and engaging session will help you extract real value relative to your position in life and the next steps you will be facing in your careers.

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Ensuring the Future of Public Service in Information Technology

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Young Government Leaders Welcomes New President Miguel Joey Aviles

YGL board Fiscal New Year 16

WASHINGTON – On October 1st, 2015, Miguel Aviles will be confirmed as the next President of the Young Government Leaders (YGL), a 501 (c)(3)non-profit professional organization founded by, and led by, young government leaders. Aviles will lead a membership of over 20 chapters and 8,000 emerging leaders from across the nation.

“I’m honored and excited to lead such an amazing orga
nization. It has always been my passion to recruit, develop, and bring future government leaders together. We must bring in and retain young, smart, diverse, and passionate people in government and help mold them into the government leaders of tomorrow. Young Government Leaders is in a great position to meet these critical challenges.”

Aviles assumes this role after spending 2 years as YGL’s Chief Learning Officer. Aviles founded YGL University, a novel initiative that empowered emerging leaders to thrive in dynamic environments through knowledge sharing, learning & development events and mentoring. During the last year YGL U successfully executed the Senior Executive Association and YGL Mentoring Program, launched a cloud-based Learning Management System and provided multiple developmental forums on resume writing, resilience, and Executive Core Qualifications.

“When we can connect, train, and create a workplace to foster the leaders of tomorrow, it creates a more responsive, transparent, and responsible government at the state, local, and federal level. YGL is committed to providing authentic voice for our generation of aspiring government leaders. We provide a community and infrastructure that will educate and inspire current and future public service leaders to create positive change within the government.”

Aviles takes over for Virginia Hill, who served as President of YGL since July 2013. Under Hill’s leadership, YGL grew its membership by 5,000 and quadrupled its budget. Hill focused her term on establishing YGL as an authentic voice for young feds. She met with the OPM Director and top government officials on recruiting Millennials to government. One of Hill’s favorite moments was delivering a keynote speech at the second annual Employee Resource Group Summit in 2015 where she spoke about employee empowerment.

Aviles stated, “YGL is in such a great position to help tomorrow’s public service leaders because of the passionate and dedication of volunteers, past and present. I look forward to working with a talented group of change makers and doers.”


About Miguel Joey Aviles
Miguel Joey Aviles is a Talent Management Strategist and one of the winners of the HR Leadership Award of Greater Washington, DC. Miguel currently serves as the Deputy Program Manager for two nationwide developmental programs at a US Federal Agency and has been recently selected as the new President of Young Government Leaders, a non-profit organization that provides an authentic voice for over 8,000 aspiring government leaders. As a former Recruitment & Outreach Strategist, he designed and coordinated award-winning initiatives to optimize the representation of diverse talent, with a sharp focus on Hispanics and Millennials. Miguel is a thought-leader featured at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) National, Regional, Diversity and Talent Management Conferences, the Global Change Management Conference, Human Capital Institute, Excellence in Government, FEDManager, Federal News Radio and other government and private sector conferences. You can connect with Miguel on LinkedIn and Twitter @miguejoeyaviles

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Keeping Millennials Engaged In Government

by Kehli Cage, Director of Mentoring and GOLD Fellows for the YGL National Board

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The Second Annual Fiscal New Year Party 2016!

2016 Fiscal New Year Flyer

Fiscal-year-end drudgery got you down? Send that last email, shut down your computers, lock up the office, and join over 100 young professionals to celebrate the start of FY16!

When: Thursday, October 1st, 2015, 5:30-8:30pm

Where: 18th Street Lounge
1212 18th Street NW, Washington, DC

Metro Stop: Farragut North or Dupont Circle (Red), Washington DC

Bar/Specials: Drink specials and light hors d’oeuvers will be provided

R.S.V.P. on Eventbrite

Sponsored by: GEICO

Check out our group Partners for this event!

DC Connect 

 Runin Out


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Brookings Executive Education’s Leadership Fellows

Click here to learn more!

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YGL University is Here!

Track, share, and discover great learning experiences now!

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