Chairman Connolly Announces Plan to Leverage Internships to Rebuild Federal Workforce
Washington, D.C. (Oct. 4, 2021)—Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a discussion with Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran A. Ahuja at George Mason University and laid out his vision to attract and retain the next generation of federal employees by more effectively leveraging internship programs to create a robust career pipeline. Despite offering competitive benefits and the opportunity to make a positive difference in local communities and across the world, the federal government is struggling to keep up with the private sector when it comes to attracting individuals early in their careers.
“Here’s the challenge: a third of the federal workforce, at least, is eligible for retirement. 2.1 million people—a third of them are eligible for retirement, and only eight percent of the federal workforce currently is under the age of 30. In the private sector, it’s more like 28 percent. So, we’re not attracting the young talent we need to be attracting, and we’re facing a huge bulge in retirement that has to be replaced. … There’s a huge opportunity to do this right and that’s going to be the great challenge, I think, [Director Ahuja] is going to be facing as the new Director of the Office of Personnel Management,” said Chairman Connolly.
Currently, the federal government is not effectively converting successful interns into career federal employees, missing out on opportunities to infuse the federal workforce with proven talent. In 2010, federal agencies offered about 60,000 paid internships, but that number dropped to only 4,000 in 2020. According to some federal contractors, jobs have been offered to approximately 96 percent of their interns in the last three years, and nearly all of those offers were accepted.
The Chairman’s forthcoming legislative proposal would focus on building out internship programs to attract early career talent to public service, and creating a pipeline from those internship programs directly into jobs with the federal government.
During his discussion with Director Ahuja, Chairman Connolly highlighted areas where the federal government can make changes or improvements to compete with the private sector. These ideas included rethinking how early career job seekers engage with the online application process, speeding up the average hiring time for federal jobs, and providing more opportunities for telework. The Chairman also emphasized the importance of creating a more diverse civil service that reflects the people it serves.
Click here to watch the discussion in full.