When asking a young child what they want to be when they grow up, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they don’t list their dream job as working in Federal IT.

But when more than 85 percent of young people say they have no interest in being a part of the government workforce, it might be cause for pause – if not time to panic.

According to a recent career aspirations study by Axios and Generation Lab, just 14 percent of Gen Z-ers said they want to spend most of their career in the government and non-profit sectors.

The pollsters found that jobs at companies of all sizes are favored by the generation over careers in the Federal space.

The research firm polled 824 people aged 18-29 throughout the country earlier this month and quizzed them on their career aspirations and goals. Gen Z is defined as people born between 1997 and 2012.

The 20-something-year-olds made it clear that they don’t plan to prioritize joining the government.

On the brighter side, the survey did find that Gen Z is interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Coder IT Tech” ranked fifth on the generation’s list of most desirable jobs, while 11 percent of the respondents said their goal is to be an engineer or scientist.

They also found that only eight percent of Gen Z-ers are prioritizing societal impact when they’re on the job hunt, while the rest of the generation is looking for personal fulfillment and happiness.

“The most popular careers among young people are those with high-income potential,” Matin Mirramezani, Generation Lab’s chief operating officer, told Axios. “They see that as the best way to achieve personal fulfillment and happiness.”

“They don’t see their career path as an end in itself, but rather the means to an end,” he said.

In 2021, Gen Z only made-up 1.6 percent of the Federal workforce, and it has become increasingly clear that the public sector will need to recruit and retain the younger generation if they want to make up for employees who will reach retirement age by 2030.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.