- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Fewer young people are attracted by the idea of a government service career than in the past, according to a survey that found those interested in such careers are more drawn to helping others than to earning good pay and benefits.

The Council for Excellence in Government poll released yesterday also found that young Americans receive little encouragement to pursue government careers.

“Only 27 percent of young people say they have ever been asked by anyone to consider government service,” said Patricia McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the Council for Excellence in Government. She said that statistic represents an 11percentage-point decline in two years.

According to the survey, 33 percent of young people said that the idea of a government service career appeals to them — down five percentage points from a 1997 survey.

Asked where they would prefer to work, 29 percent of young people say the public sector — an area that includes nonprofit organizations and charities — up from 25 percent in 1997.

“Young people draw a line today between a career in public service and one in government service. … They express great interest in [careers] that allow them to help people, but less interest in careers in government service,” the council said in a statement.

Among the reasons young Americans enter government service, helping others ranked first with 47 percent, before having good pay and benefits (26 percent), serving the community (15 percent) and having job security (11 percent).

The poll also revealed that young men are more interested than young women in government careers.

Mrs. McGinnis contrasted the attitudes of today’s young Americans with those she called “the ‘ask not’ generation,” referring to President Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration, in which he urged Americans not to ask what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country.

“Given the projected turnover in the government work force as the ‘ask not’ generation retires over the next few years, this decline in the pipeline of future leaders … presents a real challenge and an opportunity for all of us to ask and inspire the next generation of talent in the government work force,” she said.

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