Remember back in 2008, when presidential candidate Barack Obama made endless promises about how he would bring hope and change to government? Turns out he wasn’t honest about that one either. Forget turning Washington upside down and making government attractive, young people are running away from the public sector.
On the 2008 campaign trail the President noted "Our campaign from the beginning has been about changing government.” Obama would, "transform Washington" and "make government cool again." Good news: government isn’t that cool for Millennials, who don’t seem to be flocking to Uncle Sam to find jobs. Since we want to cut the size of government rather than making it more popular, we aren’t complaining.
Six years after President Obama’s triumphal entrance into Washington with a train of actors, musicians, comedians, and other celebrities in tow, Washington is not the Millennial magnet that the president hoped for. Perhaps it’s because celebrities and big promises with bad policies don’t translate into change.
The sheer inefficiency of government frustrates Millennials who might be tempted to become lifelong bureaucrats. The almost impossible application processes where resumes get lost in a black hole have dissuaded young workers from applying as well.
It’s no surprise that the generation which is entrepreneurial, tech-savvy, looking for fulfillment in work, and ready make immediate impact think a career in government is the wrong track.
The Washington Post reports:
With agencies starved for digital expertise and thousands of federal jobs coming open because of a wave of baby-boomer retirements, top government officials, including at the White House, are growing increasingly distressed about the dwindling role played by young workers.
[Lisa Danzig, associate director for personnel and performance with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget] said that the federal shutdown, furloughs and pay freezes in recent years have eroded the attraction of working for the government. Just last week, the government came within hours of shuttering again before Congress approved an annual spending bill.
For those millennials who still want to land a government job, the hiring process can be an infuriating mystery. And the government’s Pathways internship program, designed to help launch young people on a federal career, is so beset by problems that only a trickle of workers has been hired.
After Obama became president, the administration fueled a brief hiring boom of young employees, but their share of new government hires has been tumbling, according to figures compiled by the Office of Personnel Management. At the same time, employees under 30 accounted for nearly 9 percent of those who left the government in 2013, a significant figure given their tiny presence in the workforce.
Budget cuts have forced agencies to slow the hiring pipeline in the past two years, and with job prospects in the private sector improving after the long economic slowdown, millennials are increasingly taking jobs outside government, where they can see a better chance of advancement. Millennials who want to try their hand at government work often find themselves having to compete with older, more experienced candidates — or older military veterans — who often are given preference in hiring, even for entry-level jobs.
The desire to make government cool again was a clarion call for a new generation to embrace oversized government. While you can shine up a penny, it’s still just a penny. Even young people who years for bigger government have to be disappointed: Whatthese young people thought they were getting with the Obama presidency was a new era in public policy and what he delivered was disappointment, broken promises, and an agenda that put Millennials behind and hoisted unnecessary burdens on our shoulders.
Public service can be a noble career choice and we don’t want to denigrate that. There are millions of American workers patrolling our borders, enforcing our laws, and making commerce and life for us easier. Then there are those bureaucrats who think up ways to exert greater control over our eating habits, our spending habits, and our lives.
The goal should not be to make government bigger but more efficient and effective. Let’s not blame the problems of the public workforce on sequestration or budget cuts because they shrink the size of government. Millennials like efficiency and effectiveness but bloating and red tape are hallmarks of a public system. Ours is a new generation that is gaining greater appreciation for the innovativeness of the private sector.