An inescapable fiscal reality facing many countries is that government purses are increasingly likely to contain less with which to finance the public sector, even as the task of delivering services to an aging, less culturally homogenised population with new patterns of employment and unemployment, becomes more complex and more costly. Against this slightly gloomy picture, the good news is that the demand for policy specialists and those aspiring to be public sector leaders, should remain relatively strong.
Here in New Zealand, the public sector is in the process of a major shift. It is beginning to position itself to build and sustain the leadership, people- and system-capabilities to deliver better, and more targeted services with less. Key to success will be ‘creating a leadership pipeline from graduate through to emerging leader and senior executive levels’. The public sector needs to get the best possible value from its’ biggest cost – employees – and to attract and retain talent and be able to deploy them as needed setting aside government department silos.
I recently attended a presentation given by Andrew Hampton the recently appointed Government Chief Talent Officer. He explained his role and the challenges ahead for the public sector. He then went on to describe the progress that has already been made, particularly in relation to bringing a clarity of vision to the task of creating a future-proof and high performing public sector, building a sector-wide leadership team, and writing a blueprint that will address the task of identifying, growing, deploying and retaining talent.
So, if you’re an ambitious student or graduate hoping to pursue a public sector career how is this likely to affect you? A major area of talent management will be the creation and co-ordination of clearly defined graduate entry pathways via graduate recruitment and internship programmes. The professional development of new graduate recruits will also be increasingly co-ordinated across the public service in line with the future focussed goal of greater capability in relation to cross-agency deployment of personnel, allowing government department and agencies to ‘share’ internal talent from the wider public service. Talented employees and those with critical skill-sets will be able to use their specialised skills not only within their immediate team or department but across the public service.