Inspiring Young Workers to Public Service

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On the day he was elected President of the United States, Barack Obama delivered a message to the young people of America, saying, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Millennials in our country have a strong desire to serve a worthy cause. They are driven to make a difference, to be involved, to make changes to the world that will not only benefit them, but their next generation.

But the virtues of public service alone are no longer enough to get millennials interested in entering employment in the public sector. Just as the business world has begun adapting to the changing workforce needs of this generation, so should the public sector, if they wish to have the same chance of attracting them.

As the current workforce continues to age, particularly in Connecticut, there are endless possibilities for our youth to stand out, be bold, be creative and change the public landscape for the better.

One of the benefits that public employment offers is a more stable work environment: regular hours, additional job security and access to decent benefit plans. This alone could entice young workers into public service.

The key is to find ways to educate and attract them to the possibilities. Here are just some of the ways that can make that happen:

Technology – This is a key element to attracting competent young workers. Technological upgrades are essential-most people under the age of 30 understand and appreciate its value more than anyone. The ability to be connected at all times is a major selling point for companies today, and some fairly simple improvements to technological infrastructure can make this happen. We are no longer operating in a briefcase world; we are now all about smartphones, tablets, laptops and the ability to work from anywhere at any time. Young creative individuals have endless possibilities in this area to assist in changing how government works in this new generation.

Workspace – Business is changing, workplaces are changing. The traditional office model of rows of desks and cubicles is giving way to newer, more modern designs. Adaptive workspaces are becoming the norm, even in larger companies, as workers of any age appreciate shared, less restrictive spaces to collaborate as well as the freedom to be creative. State, local and federal entities should consider modernizing their work areas to attract the younger generation.

Internships – This is a staple in the business world and should be one with public employment. Often, the best way to get young workers interested and motivated is to bring them on-board as an intern, to learn how things are done, build some relationships and get a glimpse of what a career there entails. It becomes a front row seat to what their future could hold, and should be a staple of all employment venues, not just the private sector.

Volunteering – Lastly, public employment should appeal to millennials’ desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. There is a true passion in this generation to get involved and stay involved outside the workplace-through charities, not-for-profits and community service. Offering opportunities to new employees to get involved, not only in existing government services that help under-privileged individuals, but by partnering with similar community service outreach will create a bigger breadth of experience and opportunities for career growth.

All of these areas involve changing some long-established workplace norms, but they are all essential if the public arena wants to be more competitive with private businesses. It is time for us to encourage our young workforce to help in making the changes we seek.

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