Despite the availability of special hiring authorities aimed at bringing new graduates into the federal workforce, more leeway still is needed, says a Senate committee report on a bill (S-1887) now ready for a full Senate vote.

The percentage of full-time federal employees under the age of 30 has dropped from 10.49 percent to 6.37 percent since 2011 even though agencies may use the Pathways Program to bring in candidates essentially on a trial basis and then convert them non-competitively to career jobs if they perform well, says the report from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The report cited testimony at hearings warning that without a pipeline of younger workers, agencies may face future gaps in leadership, expertise, and critical skills as their older colleagues retire. However, at the same time, applicants who have advanced training and cutting-edge skills the government needs commonly don’t get selected through the government’s central hiring portal, USAJobs, because they have little work experience.

The bill would extend to all agencies a special hiring authority in place at DoD for professional or administrative positions at the GS–11 level or below without going through the competitive hiring process. Agencies could directly recruit and hire an individual who received a baccalaureate or graduate degree within the last two years. Veterans who serve in the military after graduating would still qualify as a recent graduate for two years after they complete their service. Such hires would be limited to 15 percent of appointments into those positions at those grade levels, a restriction applying in the DoD authority.

Agencies would also be able to directly hire into time-limited appointments students enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an institution of higher education and pursuing a baccalaureate or graduate degree.