WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government needs to hire more than 11,500 IT professionals over the next three years to fill critical technology jobs, many of which will be left by retiring Baby Boomers. That's according to a new study, completed with the help of federal agencies, that looks at the ages of workers and projects turnover.

The average age of federal IT workers is 48, but that's not an exceptional age for the federal workforce. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management estimated last year that approximately 40% of federal employees will retire in the next five to 10 years.

The study released Thursday by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, reports that in the fall of 2008 there were 56,500 federal IT workers in "mission critical" jobs. This doesn't include federal employment at secretive intelligence agencies, or tech workers whose jobs aren't considered critical.

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