Most public sector employees are faithful and dedicated to their work. The commendable qualities of faithfulness and dedication may, however have a downside for government agencies as a large percentage of government employees near retirement.

There is a measurable demographic difference between employees in the public sector versus those in the private sector. ERE Media reported that in 2013, 52% of public sector employees were between the ages 45 and 64 while only 42% of full-time, private sector employees were in that age group. The report says, “The number of federal retirements has actually been on the upswing since 2009 ... more than 110,000 federal employees retired in fiscal 2012, and in the first four months of 2013, about 60,000 federal employees applied to retire - a 43% increase from the same period in 2012. The U.S. Government Accountability Office projects that 30% of the more than two million federal government employees will be eligible to retire in the next three years.”

This wave of retirements -- often dubbed the “Silver Tsunami” -- isn’t limited to the federal government. In the past two years, public sector human resources professionals told the Center for State and Local Government Excellence their top concerns are recruiting and retaining qualified personnel. Connected to that, they are also concerned about succession planning and staff development.

Route Fifty recently tweeted via PEW Charitable Trusts that this “Silver Tsunami” has encouraged cities and state agencies to begin hiring again after years of hiring freezes and layoffs:

The Silver Tsunami is Good News for Executive Search Providers

As the retirement wave continues, professional services contractors that provide executive search services should take note. Onvia’s Project Center data shows state and local governments are increasingly searching for help to fill leadership gaps as their top-tier employees enter their golden years. In 2014, state and local agencies issued 282 bids and requests for proposals for help in executive searches and made 119 awards. The total solicitations in 2014 were nearly 30% higher than in 2013.

Awarded Lochlin Partners a $92,000 contract in November 2014 for supporting its search for general manager and chief executive officer positions. Lochlin will recruit, screen and recommend highly qualified candidates for WMATA.

Officials are Hiring in Higher Education

Contractors offering executive search services should also note that higher education is a key market. A third of 2014’s executive search solicitations and 39% of the year’s awards were related to higher education—by far the largest percentages compared to other levels of government. A 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service says that more than half of public sector employees are in management, professional and related occupations and that a quarter of them are in education, training and library professions.

Released an RFP in November 2014 seeking an executive search firm to conduct the search and assist in hiring a vice president for instruction at the college. The firm is expected to handle the national advertising, creation of the job profile, recruitment of a diverse candidate pool, the interview process and recommendation of top candidates.

Agencies Need Help from Recruitment Firms

As government employees retire, agencies have to fill those open positions. However, the new generation of workers represents a waning interest in public service. The number of college students planning to go into local, state or federal government service continues to fall, as reported by the Baltimore Sun in 2014. The article cites a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers where it was found that in 2009, 10.2% of college students were considering a career in the public sector, but only 5.4% had similar plans by 2013.

Given this reality, state and local governments are going after the millennial workforce – and they are looking for help to advertise working in public service.

Issued an RFP in March 2015 seeking a videographer to shoot and produce a short video to highlight the City’s millennial workforce as a whole and several individual employees. Officials want to use the video as a recruitment tool for younger potential employees.

Agencies Plan for New Employee Training to Prevent High Turnover

Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center shows that at least 11 cities, as well as counties and special authorities across the U.S. have proposed or adopted budgets related to goals around recruiting the millennial generation to public service. Included in these plans, agencies aim to encourage long-term employment by investing in new employee training.

Among the levels of state and local government, city agencies lead in the amount of planned training spending in the next few years with over 2,000 related plan and budget mentions.

The county’s five year capital improvement plan for 2013-2018 includes a planned project consisting of a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Allan Hannock College to co-locate the fire department training section and a dispatch center within the new public safety complex located on campus. With continued turnover of their aging workforce, the facility will allow the provision of critical, quality training for their new employees.

Recruiting and Employee Training Firms Have Plenty of Opportunity

Government executive positions are changing, especially as baby boomers retire in greater waves. State and local governments need help in finding the right people to lead their organizations. Business consulting companies will find plenty of opportunities to help with executive searches for high-profile agencies and educational institutions. In addition, government agencies always want their operations running smoothly and training their new employees is a key to making that happen.

Onvia’s recent 10 Hotspots in Government Contracting report highlights that training and executive search are among the fastest growing industries in the state and local government market. Since 2013, opportunities for training and for executive searches have increased by 13% and the amount state and local agency budgets and planning documents mentioning employee training seem to suggest that the trend will continue.