New numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs show only about 1% of the IT workforce at the agency is under the age of 30. Experts say a digital corps would help create opportunities for recent college grads to work in IT in government.
The idea was developed by Nick Sinai, Senior Advisor at Insight Partners and former Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at OMB, and Chris Kuang, Co-Founder and Director of Operations of Coding it Forward.
Sinai and Kuang propose the creation of a two-year federal service fellowship for recent college graduates and other skilled technologists to work in IT in government. It would be based on the model for Coding it Forward, a nonprofit that provides technical mentorship and sponsorship.
Whereas the United States Digital Service and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program are generally mid-career programs, Sinai said the digital corps would be designed for those in the beginning of their careers who are coming right out of school.
Sinai said the digital corps is something the Biden administration would be able to start right away without Congress, although Congressional authorization and appropriation would be helpful. Sinai said the idea would be to stand up a new program office for centrally recruiting and screening digital corps fellows.
“With some intentionality, we can go out and reverse the numbers that we have … there are just too few people under the age of 30 – I think it’s 6% – in federal service today,” said Sinai. “Generation Z wants to serve, and especially those in technology, and so we have to find a way to make this possible.”