Why Millennials Are Invaluable to the Public Sector

By the year 2020, millennials will make up almost half of the U.S. workforce. According to The Washington Post, workers younger than 30 make up only 7 percent of the total federal workforce. A survey by Cornerstone OnDemand and WBR Digital reveals that 78 percent of human capital executives admit that they are not effectively training successors. Nevertheless, millennials are ideal candidates for careers in public service because they tend to possess highly sought-after qualities in the industry.

According to the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, public service professionals should serve the public interest, which requires them to be nonpartisan on a political level, committed to transparency and open dialogue, and willing to be held accountable. Personal integrity is also an important part of public service positions, which includes being conscientiousness, committed to maintaining and securing private information, and operating in equality and fairness. Successful public service employees need to have the courage to speak out when they see wrongdoing and be willing to take responsibility for their actions.

According to Myths, Exaggerations, and Uncomfortable Truths, an IBM study, millennials possess many of the aforementioned qualities. When asked to name their top career goals and expectations, millennials prioritized making a positive impact on their organization and helping to solve social and/or environmental problems. At the very bottom of their priority list, was the desire to achieve financial security and start their own business. When asked to name the top attributes of a perfect boss, millennials listed being ethical and fair as the top trait, followed by transparency. In third place was dependability and consistency. They also value teamwork and collaboration and have clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives—especially as it relates to sharing company information and using company equipment.

In addition, millennials expressed a desire for inspirational leadership and stated that being mentored by their boss and the opportunity to learn, develop, and improve on a continuous basis was extremely important to them.

Many of the qualities are the same or are in the same category of qualities. These similarities seem to indicate that millennials may be well-suited for public service work. The desire to help others and make the world a better place by pursuing a career in which they can make a positive impact is a quality that is important in public service positions—and is also a quality that millennials tend to possess. The desire to treat people fairly and a passion for teamwork are other key traits of both groups.

By the year 2020, millennials will make up almost half of all U.S. workers. They will have grown up as part of a generation that is heavily focused on social media use. In fact, 88 percent of millennials use Facebook to get their daily news. Public service organizations need to capitalize on millennials’ skills now to maintain their constituencies into the future.

The ability to raise funds, increase awareness, and recruit volunteers for a particular cause is crucial to the success of public and social service organizations, and millennials can lead the way in determining effective strategies and best practices for effective campaigns.

The public service sector is a vitally important part of our country’s workforce, and the continuity of workers and leaders in public service positions will determine our ongoing success. A career in public service is one way that millennials can shape the future and foster social change.

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