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The Volcker Alliance plans to research the question, and to offer some answers, during a time of transition in the public sector workforce.
As Baby Boomers gradually age out of the workforce and emerging technology shifts the way public sector agencies do business, a nonprofit organization wants to identify what future government employees will need to know in order to do their jobs effectively.
“There’s a lot of change happening and a lot of change to come,” said Tom Ross, president of the New York City-based Volcker Alliance, the organization planning to conduct the research.
Ross pointed out that new technologies are altering how government services are delivered, that data increasingly informs agency decision-making, and that in the public and private sectors alike there is a growing emphasis on employees having an “entrepreneurial attitude.”
All of that change comes on top of the generational transition that will occur in government workplaces as Boomers retire and Millennials take their place.
A nonprofit started in 2013 by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker, part of the Volcker Alliance’s mission is to build public trust in government.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the group $1.5 million in late September that will help support the public sector workforce research. The money is an unrestricted grant and will support other parts of the Alliance’s operations as well.
Ross said the research will likely involve surveys, interviews and other methods and will be conducted by both Alliance staffers and outside experts. Government agencies, as well as schools teaching public policy and public administration are expected to be among the end users of the findings. For now, there’s no timeline for when the project might be complete.
From Ross’s perspective, the research is timely as Millennials take on a larger presence in the workforce. “We know that Millennials are interested in service. They’re interested in making a difference,” he said. “We need very much for them to be attracted to government.”
“If we can demonstrate what the skills and competencies are,” he added, “it may actually align quite well with what their interests are.”
Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.