Stereotypes keep millennials from obtaining government jobs, study finds

Lazy, entitled, impatient—raise your hand if you’ve ever heard those words used to refer to millennials.

A recent study by Deloitte shows that negative stereotypes about millennials may be the reason young people have trouble finding employment in the federal government.

Stereotypes about millennials being narcissistic, impatient, or disloyal, may be preventing them from being hired to fill positions in public service, according to the report.

Tonya Johnson, a spokesperson for Deloitte, said that many government officials are calling on millennials to join the public service to help usher in the next “golden age.” The report recommends the removal of barriers to hiring millennials in order to modernize Canada’s public service.

Deloitte had first assumed that millennials were not applying for jobs in the public service, but after conducting the report, found that they are actually applying in “droves for federal jobs,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the reason millennials aren’t getting hired is because “the recruitment process is slow and narrow, meaning that the government is missing out on some of the best young talent.” As a result, the public sector is failing to unlock the transformative potential of millennial workers, she added.

The report was conducted through interviews with a number of federal public servants, consulting literature reviews, and looking at publicly available reports published by the public sector detailing hiring and labour force data, and the public sector employment survey.

Many of these stereotypes and perceptions arise “from misunderstanding issues that millennials face,” Johnson said. She also explained  the perception that millennials don’t want to work in the government is untrue, given the appeal of a stable job and work-life balance.Despite concerns about retention of younger workers, the report also found that, from 2007-2014, those aged 35 and younger were more likely to stay in the public service, once hired.

But getting hired can be difficult, especially since the government has lowered the number of people hired overall since 2008. According to the report, there were nearly 5,000 external jobs posted in 2008, compared to just 2,700 in 2016. At the same time, the success rate of those who applied for positions through the government’s post-secondary recruitment program was only one per cent.

“It’s past time we refocused the debate onto the issues that millennials are actually facing: recruitment, integration, and engagement,” Johnson said.

According to the report, delayed retirement by an older generation currently occupying government jobs is also affecting the number of young people hired. Another barrier facing millennials is the lengthy hiring process and lack of career growth. Faced with higher amounts of debt due to student loans, many young people are unable to wait several months to be hired, according to the report.

The report also explores the differences between earlier generations and millennials. For example, it shows that millennials place more of an emphasis on a work-life balance than previous generations.

The report makes recommendations to the current system, such as adopting a streamlined hiring process, prioritizing different skill sets, and encouraging innovation and diversity.

Johnson said that in the age of complex policy making and an increasing demand on government services, it is important that the federal government recruit, develop, and empower the best and brightest young people the country has to offer.

“If it fails to do so, it risks falling behind,” she said.

Photo by Meagan Casalino