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ATD Blog

Investing in Tomorrow's Government Leaders


Tue Aug 25 2015

Investing in Tomorrow's Government Leaders-1cea290b7215f8743c34c17c65c457ce08cb5a71e8a7bedb06044de68ea2b6bb

With an aging federal workforce that is nearing retirement, it’s important to attract and retain a new generation of professional talent. To answer this need, GSA created the Emerging Leaders Program, a two-year rotational leadership development program that attracts recent college graduates through a comprehensive on-campus recruiting strategy.

The cohort-based Emerging Leaders Program helps Millennials make the transition from college to the workplace. During the two-year program, participants gain valuable on-the-job training through three-month rotational assignments that are aligned with their occupation, professional development, and soft skills training. This not only helps them be successful in the workplace, but also gain an understanding of federal workplace dynamics.


At the end of the two-year program, GSA hiring managers can look at which employees would be the best fit for their organizations based on their rotational experiences. Meanwhile, participants have the opportunity to make an informed decision about which GSA office they would like to work in permanently.

GSA has benefited from improved retention of Millennials by giving them an opportunity to discover their talents and strengths and what type of work is the best fit for them. In fact, this unique program has had great results for GSA’s hiring and retention of the government’s youngest generation of employees.

To date, The Emerging Leaders Program has hired 281 recent college graduates with 177 currently working for GSA, resulting in a 63 percent overall retention rate. The most recent class, 2013-2015, saw a 93 percent hire and retention rate.

Bottom line: Agencies' missions are complex, and it can be difficult for a new employee right out of college to hit the ground running in the workplace. Managers who are mindful of this learning curve—and who are willing to make an investment in their employees—will have workers who are willing to be loyal to them long term.

With this in mind, other federal agencies need to take a long-term approach to attracting and hiring entry-level talent and be open to innovation when it comes to growing and developing new employees. It is an investment worth making when it comes to tomorrow’s leaders in the federal government.


You can continue this conversation with Wendy Stoner during the “Next Generation Leadership Development: Learning for Every Phase” session at Government Workforce: Learning Innovations.

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