Wyatt Kash | The next generation

Editor's Desk'commentary: Rising stars

GCN Editor in Chief
Wyatt Kash

Mention the future of the government information technology workforce, and you're likely to hear two all-too-familiar themes.

The first often is accompanied by ominous storm clouds. It is the threatened loss of institutional knowledge in the form of legions of government IT professionals on the threshold of retirement, supposedly just counting the days until they say, 'Thanks for the memories.'

The other seems to be preceded by a rolling mist: the emerging class of digital natives, that generation of young adults who have an almost magical grasp of fast-changing, on-the-fly, Web-based technologies ' and supposedly little regard for the old ways of sharing information that dominate most big organizations.

Both scenarios pose challenges for government technology leaders. They might not have unfolded as dramatically as many feared ' at least not yet ' but several factors have combined to make attracting the next generation of IT enthusiasts into the government workforce harder.

For one, the number of university students in computer science is falling short of market demands. Moreover, 60 percent of those students are foreigners, and immigration laws are forcing many of them to seek jobs elsewhere in the world. Government budget cutbacks, meanwhile, are not only diverting more IT work into the private sector but also hacking away at the government-sponsored research and scientific work that once attracted the best and brightest.

Yet the government has a massive amount of important technology work to accomplish. And the opportunities for talented young workers to make an impact have perhaps never been greater.

One way to encourage the next generation to consider those opportunities is by shining a brighter spotlight on today's young leaders who are already making a difference in government.

And one way to do that is through the 2008 Rising Star awards program.

Started three years ago by our sister publication, Federal Computer Week, together with the Young AFCEANs of AFCEA International's Bethesda, Md., chapter, Rising Star is gaining recognition in its own right for spotlighting young or otherwise promising new leaders in government. This year, GCN is joining forces with FCW, as is Washington Technology, in reaching out to our respective communities in search of nominations.

We believe our readers have a stake in recognizing the next generation of government technology leaders ' so nominate them. Go to www.GCN.com/ risingstar for more details. The deadline is May 2.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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