Engineers and Scientists in High Demand at Federal Agencies
Engineers and scientists will be among the most in-demand employees at federal agencies over the next two years, according to a new study
by the Partnership for Public Service and the National Academy of Public Administration, a private nonprofit organization that helps the government
revitalize the federal workforce and attract the talent it needs.
Where the Jobs Are: The Continuing Growth of Federal Job Opportunities, released February 2, 2005, found that engineers, physicists,
chemists, biologists, botanists, and veterinarians will be needed to fill 23,806 posts through 2006. The report covers 15 cabinet-level departments
and nine agencies, which together represent 95 percent of the executive branch.
"The report confirms what I suspected: the government needs to hire a lot of people over the next few years—and I consider these numbers
conservative," says John Palguta, Vice President for policy and research at the Partnership.
Demand Spans Agencies, Fields
The report reveals federal demand for more than 15,000 people trained in engineering, 5,198 in biology, 3,322 in the physical sciences,
and 3,200 in information technology. Those numbers include nearly 13,000 expected engineering hires at the Defense Department and 938 at NASA;
1,317 planned biological sciences hires at the Department of Agriculture and 2,215 at Health and Human Services; as well as an anticipated 1,370
physical scientists at the Pentagon. Other agencies with significant needs for scientists and engineers are the departments of Energy and the
Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"In engineering and science, the demand has always been there, and we may even be seeing that it's growing a little bit," says Palguta.
Government demand and job growth are expected to be highest for information technology, computer science, and mathematics experts.
Though the federal government accounts for less than 2 percent of the U.S. workforce, it employs disproportionately high numbers of
scientists and engineers. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 22,000 new jobs in the biological sciences in the next decade,
with nearly one-quarter of them in government; engineering will grow by 96,000 jobs, with 18,000 of them in government.
"[The government needs] to bring in talent now, and we're seeing a change in basic compensation systems so the government will be able
to attract the best and the brightest-and that's especially true for science and engineering," Palguta says.
Insiders Share Experiences
Students enrolled at participating MentorNet campuses can find out what government work is like by signing up to match with a
mentor from one of MentorNet's government partners: Sandia National Laboratories, the Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, or Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"This is a wonderful time to get into government," Palguta says. "People coming in now will have the opportunity to advance
at a more rapid rate."
"It's a mistake to think of a government career in terms of a single agency," he adds. "Once you're in government, there's
a lot of opportunity for movement, and if you’re good at what you do you'll be in demand. Since a lot of agencies use
engineers, you see a fair amount of movement between those agencies."
And workers can change agencies without losing accrued benefits. Government agencies may not pay as well as the private
sector, but they provide excellent health and retirement benefits and family-friendly policies. The government also has a
longstanding commitment to diversity that’s reflected in overall numbers.
In addition, Palguta says, "We find that people come to government work because it gives them the opportunity to work on
some state-of-the-art research that they couldn't do anywhere else, or because they're able to do something that makes a
difference for the country."
Where the Jobs Are was underwritten by a grant from the New York Times Job Market. You can download the report