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Speaker: gov't jobs can be 'cool again'

A new generation of bright and motivated young people need to enter the public sector, Vice President at the Partnership for Public Service John Palguta told a group of about 30 people in Salomon 101 Tuesday.

"It's an exciting time to be around government," he said.

During the talk, called "How to Make Public Service Cool Again: Federal Workforce Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration," Palguta emphasized the importance of placing the right people in the right positions for government to be most effective.

Palguta was drawn into public service by President John F. Kennedy at a time when federal jobs were not popular, he said. There has been a resurgent interest in government jobs due to the current economic crisis, he said, and the Obama administration has promoted a new attitude toward the role of government and the importance of public service.

"There is an unprecedented level of interest in working for the federal government," Palguta said. He expects the number of civilian government employees to rise from 1.9 million to 2.1 million by the end of Obama's term, he said.

Palguta said it was wrong to think that the "best and the brightest" should enter the private sector in order to make profit.

"Demands on the government are increasing along with demands for accountability and results," he said.

The government is an increasingly graying workforce - the average age of federal employees is 47 - that needs younger workers to be as efficient as possible, he said.

According to a Universum survey of ideal employers that Palguta cited, the government is the first choice for jobs among undergraduates, and five of the top 15 ideal employers are federal agencies.

But the survey also showed that students have high base-salary expectations for government jobs, and technical majors are generally less interested than liberal arts majors in pursuing careers in government.

The event was sponsored by the Taubman Center for Public Policy and the Career Development Center, which recently began collaborating to promote government employment at Brown.

"I thought it was a productive talk in that it showed the scale of government opportunities," said Garrett Adler '09, adding that he was surprised more people did not show up to the event.

Melissa King '08 GS also found the talk helpful. "I think it filled a sort of niche interest," she said.


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