How the new workforce will help revolutionize the way government works today.
More retirement parties are on the horizon, and baby boomers are planning days of leisure instead of their next career move. The sheer mass of Americans exiting (or getting ready to exit) the workforce has big implications for millennials and gen-Xers looking to move up the career ladder. It’s estimated that 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day.
There are more than 76 million baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) in the U.S. That’s almost a quarter of the country’s population. The oldest group of boomers got a late start on retirement, with 47 percent reporting they retired later than expected due to financial reasons (from a MetLife Mature Market Institute survey). But the rate of retirement is picking up speed, and when it comes to the volume of retirements, it’s really only getting started. In September 2012, about 270,000 (14 percent) of permanent federal employees were eligible to retire. By September 2017, nearly 600,000 (around 31 percent) will be eligible to retire, government wide. As this generation ages in the next decade, expect to see similar openings in your own local governments.
The opportunities - room to move up
Feel like you’re stuck? Be patient. Many of those retiring have jobs high up on the career ladder. According to a 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office, the federal jobs that will see vacancies due to retirement in the next decade have high skill and education requirements. In fact, that same report is worried that this new tide of retirements will leave a huge critical-skills gap. Both government and private sectors know they have a big transition coming up, and they’re planning for it. Which means millennials and gen-Xers also might want to make some calculated career-planning moves.
What are your ambitions? Let your supervisors know where you’d like your career to go. The federal government just started a phased-retirement program, which allows federal employees to retire slowly, moving down to part-time status with the agreement that they spend a portion of their hours mentoring their replacements. See if a similar program is available at the local level. Or informally ask a boomer to mentor you. Are you positioning yourself to be the perfect replacement candidate?
What can you learn? There’s a wealth of knowledge getting ready to walk out the door, and you can either treat them like they’re obsolete, or you can pull up a chair and find out what they know. It might be the time to ask questions, learn new skills, and network like never before. Prove to them that they don’t need to worry about skills gaps; you’ve got it covered.
What can you bring to the table? This next generation is also about to get a chance to bring fresh ideas to the table. New policies, new ways of doing things. So get ready for a breath of fresh air.
Further reading: “How Millennials are Changing the Workplace.”