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Survey Finds Parents Don’t Talk to Their Kids About These Great Career Opportunities

Thursday, August 7 2014

Washington, D.C.—There are plenty of challenging and rewarding jobs in government service, but fewer than four in 10 parents—37 percent—have encouraged their children to consider a federal career, a survey taken for the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees shows.

The online survey of more than 1,000 adults with children between the ages of eight and 22, conducted for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) by Ipsos Public Affairs, found only 8 percent of parents named the federal government as a place their children want to work and only 6 percent named the military.

With a federal retirement wave in the offing, the survey underscores the difficulty federal agencies likely will face in trying to attract a new generation of employees into government service.

“Parents have the most influence on the career choices of their children,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “We need to get parents to talk to their kids about the interesting jobs in nearly every field that will be available in the future.”

As kids head back to school or off to college, NTEU’s new public service campaign presents a positive view of federal employment today and inspires the federal workers of tomorrow.

“Other data show that only 2 percent of college students said they planned on joining the federal government after graduation,” President Kelley said, quoting a study by the Partnership for Public Service and the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Contrast that with a Government Accountability Office report that 600,000 current federal employees—31 percent of the workforce—will be eligible to retire by 2017.

President Kelley offered these tips for parents:

• Talk to your child about a federal career and the chance to make a difference in the world.

• Encourage your children to learn more about all the different types of federal jobs available in your area. Roughly 86 percent of all federal jobs are outside of the Washington D.C., area. The government site,, lists them all.

• Talk about the positive contributions federal employees make to our country in science, engineering, public health, national defense, environmental sciences, history, preservation of natural resources, banking and protecting our democracy. Fifty federal employees have won the Nobel Prize and the federal government offers many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs.

• Visit to: watch a video of federal employees and their kids talking about careers in the government; see our survey results; and find information about federal jobs and the federal workforce.

“The work of federal employees impacts every American,” President Kelley said. She cited just a few examples: “Federal workers are law enforcement officers who protect our borders; nuclear scientists who safeguard nuclear power plants; cybersecurity experts who preserve our national defense; bank examiners who keep our bank deposits secure; food inspectors who keep our food and medicines safe; conservationists who protect our natural environment; historians who preserve our national heritage; and much more.”

Other findings of the Ipsos survey show 74 percent of the parents believe federal jobs are stable and well-paid; 70 percent said they provide career growth; 76 percent agree that federal workers provide important services to the public; and 56 percent said they believe the jobs are personally fulfilling.

“To attract the most talented workers to government now and in the future, we have to increase awareness about the important work of federal employees,” Kelley said.

As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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