Blue/Gray Combo Could Help Government Solve Talent Shortage

Ann All

I blogged back in August about growing interest from both older employees and companies in keeping such workers on the job past the traditional retirement age. Among the advantages: Older workers often possess the specialized skills and/or business orientation that are highly in demand. And they make great mentors for younger employees.


Now IBM is working with the federal government and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service to help some of its veterans land public-service positions, reports The Washington Post.


A program called the FedExperience Transitions to Government will help interested IBM employees and retirees navigate the often-convoluted federal hiring process. Big Blue is piloting the program with the Treasury Department, which needs workers well versed in technology, accounting and law -- a good match for many IBM'ers.


According to InformationWeek, the Treasury Department will need to fill some 14,000 "mission-critical" jobs over the next two years, including IT positions. Based on the large number of retiring employees, some observers expect outsourcing by the federal government to grow over the next several years.


The IBM vets will receive government job openings, and Big Blue will help them understand hiring procedures and requirements and provide them with specialized training and networking opportunities. If the pilot is successful, IBM hopes to expand the program to other federal agencies, and also broaden it to include other companies.


The partnership faces an uphill slog. A research report it commissioned found that more than 60 percent of older Americans it surveyed cited government inefficiency and bureaucracy as reasons not to pursue public-sector jobs. Yet IBM sees definite value in trying to place workers in government, which has remained "largely isolated from external talent pools," according to the report.


"It is good business to operate this way," says Stanley Litow, IBM's VP for corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, in the Post story.


Both the Post and InformationWeek mention another IBM initiative in which the company provides tuition reimbursement and other assistance for employees interested in becoming math or science teachers. Litow tells InformationWeek that 100 employees have participated in this program over the past two years.


IBM took some heat over job cuts it made in 2007. Maybe these programs will help some of those folks who lost jobs pursue new employment opportunities.

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