Federal Sector Ripe With Opportunity

As Labor Day draws near, legions of new students will enter college, begin studies, and draw up outlines for their future careers. Meanwhile, those who started four years earlier will begin job interviews. And those who started decades ago will begin planning of a different sort – for their retirement.

Recent graduates and those just beginning college would do well to consider a career in public service.

Common Cents by GSA Acting Administrator David Bibb

The longtime rap on government jobs is that they came cloaked in gray. They were boring and tedious; advancement was slow and perks rare. Today’s federal civil service jobs can be dynamic, exciting, and very rewarding. They are also ripe with opportunity.

That is, the government workforce is facing a major shift as Baby-Boomers surf out on the “Silver Tsunami.” According to the Office of Personnel Management, there were 1,572,855 federal employees at the end of fiscal 2006. The ten year projection showed that more than 60 percent will be eligible to retire by 2016, and over 37 percent (586,339) will actually retire. This means the government must continue to replace some 58,000 workers who will retire each year until 2016.

The U.S. General Services Administration, the government’s purchasing arm and landlord, faces the same challenge. Noteworthy, though, is that GSA consistently ranks among the top federal workplaces. Why? Several reasons. For one, employees want programs that will help them advance. GSA has a “Leadership Institute” that offers highly focused developmental courses like, “Leadership for New Supervisors” and the “Advanced Leadership Development Program.” We also have a mentoring program that pairs talented, experienced employees with protégés who want to enhance their leadership and other business skills.

Another initiative our employees like is telework. In these days of environmental concern and soaring gas prices, GSA has staked out turf as a government leader in telework. Nearly 30 percent of our employees now work at least one day a week at home or at a Telework Center.

Like many federal workplaces, we also offer Alternative Work Schedules and the transit benefits. Unlike the others, GSA is a leader in world class child care. GSA manages more than 100 centers nationwide, and 85 percent meet the rigorous standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Government has great opportunities for people interested in just about any subject; science and medicine; sophisticated IT networks; environmental compliance and worker safety; forestry, oceanographic and climate research; military service; diplomatic postings; contracting, law, counseling, emergency rescue and law enforcement. The feds have a medical school, service academies, graduate schools and scholarship programs. You name it, and the federal government probably does it. Check it out yourself on www.usajobs.gov.

If you are the parent of a high school or college student, you probably remember when the eight-track player was a great innovation, and we programmed computers with punch cards. We could not imagine something like the iPod or wireless internet. When I began my career at GSA in 1971, the government was designing conventional buildings. Now we build solar parks and buy alternative fuel vehicles.

When sons, daughters, nieces or nephews ask about career opportunities, please talk to them about the benefits of federal service. They can help make their country a better place for themselves and their children while enjoying a fulfilling, and rewarding career. The future is theirs.

David L. Bibb is Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration

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