Keeping and recruiting tech talent is already a struggle for the federal government, and one lawmaker warns the shutdown will make the problem worse.
“How can we ever hope to recruit or maintain IT talent when hardworking government workers are told: ‘sorry, you aren’t getting paid, but you still need to come to work’ or ‘sorry, but no paycheck this week because of politics?’ Large private sector companies never say this to their employees and these are our competitors when it comes to IT talent recruitment,” Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said in a statement Wednesday.
Kelly, the most recent ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform’s IT subcommittee, said the shutdown will have long-term effects on agencies’ ability to attract technical talent. For every one under 30-year-old IT professional starting their careers in the federal government, there are more than four who are over 60 and approaching retirement age. Some civilian agencies face more of a potential knowledge gap: at the Treasury Department, IT pros who are 60 or older outnumber the under-30s almost 10 to one, while at the Veteran Affairs Department, it’s nearly 19 to 1.
“Time and time again, our subcommittee discussed how the government simply cannot compete on salary when it comes to recruiting talent,” Kelly said. “Instead, we hope that IT workers will see government service as service to their nation and fellow Americans. However, this shutdown, caused by one man and his ego, creates deep uncertainty that will ripple through the economy and labor market for years to come.”