Good old government workers
Fedscoop recently published an article criticizing the federal government hiring freeze, and cited three reasons why this was a bad idea. I’m going to concentrate on one of them.
More than 60 percent of the federal workforce is over the age of 45: Public sector workers are significantly older than their private sector counterparts. And nearly two-thirds of the government’s senior executives are already eligible to retire. As federal employees retire en masse over the coming years, agencies will need to fill critical roles. That means recruiting more new talent, not less, and finding and grooming the next generation of career civil servant leaders.
Now certain segments of the private sector – (cough) tech (cough) have the opposite problem. Even after years of complaints, articles such as Silicon Valley’s Peter Pan Syndrome vs. the Aging of Aquarius are still appearing. The Fortune article made a point of quoting Vinod Khosla:
“People under 35 are the people who make change happen. People over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.”
When Khosla made that statement in 2011, he was over 55 years old. Obviously that idea wasn’t worth discussing. And after 2011, Khosla advanced oter ideas that can easily be ignored, such as ideas about meat and ideas about medicine (twice).
Government is having the opposite problem. Rather than jettisoning people when they get “too old,” they’re having problems getting people to join in the first place. Even under the best of circumstances, government salaries are capped because voters don’t like it when government workers make more than they do. On the state level, they complain when a state university head football coach makes over $1 million a year, but they’d really complain if they had a coach that made less than the governor. Good coaches don’t come cheap.
Therefore, your cybersecurity grads are more often than not going to skip that job application process with a federal agency. With student loans to pay, they’re better off going into the private sector.
But what happens when the 60% of federal employees over age 45 retire – and there are few people left to fill the empty requisitions?