Young Professionals and GovTravels 2020.

Author:Varkonyi, Irvin

The inaugural Young Professionals breakfast meeting held February 25 during the 2020 GovTravels Symposium attracted some 70 participants. The meeting was coordinated between NDTA headquarters and the NDTA Washington DC chapter, led by Chapter President, Richard Dampman, of Enterprise Holdings. Craig Hymes, Senior Vice President of Operations, NDTA, addressed the meeting, encouraging Young Professionals to look for opportunities to grow their travel careers and seek out mentors to help in their advancement.

About a dozen of the participants responded to Craig's request to identify themselves as Young Professionals. The low number of hands raised indicates challenges remain on attracting more Young Professionals to attend GovTravels. Discussion with attendees showed mixed prospects in encouraging more Young Professionals to attend the conference, as well as on the larger issue of attracting younger talent to work for the government.

But, the government's struggle to attract talent is nothing new. In January 2019, a article explored the subject:

"The government needs to wake up and realize there's a talent war," said [Kirsten] Wyatt, Executive Director of the Oregon-based Engaging Local Government Leaders, a nonprofit promoting diversity, education, and networking among local government employees on a national level. "If you're going to be competing for entry-level or jobs you want to fill with talent you can then nurture, you need to put in more effort."

While Wyatt's comments were about local government employees, the comments apply to the federal workforce as well. When retired or separated military apply for government jobs, they qualify for hiring preferences, but such preferences can also make it more difficult to hire younger, non-military. This speaks to the need to look at recruitment efforts more holistically.

Other comments in table discussions were mixed about the encouragement of senior leaders to attract young professionals. Yet there is recognition of the "silver tsunami" coming when a huge wave of baby boomers will exit the workforce into retirement. Studies show around 10,000 boomers retire every day, leaving an immense void in the public sector.

How can the government attract young professionals? A September 2019 article released by Rasmussen College offered five things that millennials it surveyed want from employers:

  1. Meaning--You spend much of your life working, so it makes sense to choose something you feel...

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