04/02/2014 02:58 pm ET Updated Jun 02, 2014

How to compete with the private sector for young workers

Employees younger than 30 represent just 8.5 percent of all federal workers, compared with 23.2 percent of the total U.S. workforce. That's a sign that government agencies should being doing a better job of attracting top talent from colleges and universities to increase generational diversity and create a solid foundation for the future.

The 2013 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Student Survey, analyzed by my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, found that 24.9 percent of the 37,874 students ranked government (federal, state and local) as one of their top three target industries. Yet, only 5.7 percent listed federal service as their ideal career, and just 2 percent of the students said they planned to work for the federal government after graduation.

While federal hiring has slowed down because of budget constraints, jobs are being filled. And by 2017, about 31 percent of the government's permanent career employees will be eligible to retire, presenting both a dilemma and an opportunity for federal leaders.