How Boomers Can Help Our Government Meet Its Talent Needs
Robert Danbeck was one of the brightest stars in Human Resources at IBM, selected to run the business giant’s HR offices in Hong Kong, then Beijing and, finally, Bangalore. In 2003, after 35 years at IBM, Danbeck decided it was time to retire, but he didn’t want to hang it up. He knew he had more gas in the tank and began searching for a new challenge. He found it working for his country. Danbeck now plays a leading role in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s efforts to recruit more talented Americans to federal service.
Ann Vande Vanter, a CPA with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector, was appalled at the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals and how they had shaken her industry. She wanted to make a positive difference and took her skills to the Internal Revenue Service.
John Emens retired from Allfirst Bank after 26 years at Allfirst and 32 years in commercial banking. He now runs the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s outreach efforts to American small businesses.
Danbeck, Vande Vanter and Emens certainly aren’t celebrities, and their movement into second careers with the government may not even seem that exceptional. But the truth is that their transitions and our government’s ability to replicate them are directly tied to our ability to tackle key national challenges in the years ahead.
The first baby boomers have already begun entering their sixties, and millions of Americans will soon be retiring from the workplace. Not only will this wave of retirees be the largest in U.S. history, it will also be the healthiest, best educated and most affluent—which means that retiring boomers can be a tremendous asset for our country. Now is the time to start a debate about how to tap their potential.
Some people are looking to government to come up with new ways to utilize this growing talent pool to promote national goals. That’s a good idea, but in addition to looking for solutions from government, it’s time people realized one of the solutions is to get more older Americans working in government.
Our federal government—the nation’s largest employer—will be especially hard hit by the boomer retirement wave. The average age of the federal workforce is over 46 and climbing.1 And over the next five years, nearly half of federal workers will be eligible to retire, including nearly 70 percent of senior managers.
For full report, see attached PDF.