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We need skills, we have resources, but never the twain shall meet

Samiran Ghosh, CIO, Asia , Dun& Bradstreet | March 30, 2016
The talent shortage in governments is not because of the lack of people but due to the lack of people with the right skills to take up such jobs.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

It seems that clowns and the government have a lot more in common than we may think. How? A shortage of talent. The New York Daily News recently reported that  US may be on the brink of a national clown shortage. Older clowns are retiring, while today's youth can't find the "cool" factor in pursuing a career as a clown. Similarly, the US federal government is finding that many college graduates are not interested in public sector jobs, including IT. In fact, a recent survey cited that less than six percent of college graduates list the federal government as their ideal job

UK Labour's Digital Government Review worked with IT recruitment specialists Mortimer Spinks to survey 2,152 technology workers about their attitude to the public sector. The results - which Mortimer Spinks have kindly released as open data - demonstrate the scale of the challenge that the next government will face.

  • Even if the requirements and remuneration of the job were the same, only 47.4% of these technology workers would choose to take a job in the public sector, while 83.4% would happily work in the private sector. Interestingly, even fewer (41.5%) would work in the public sector via a private sector firm. That is seen as the worst combination of all.
  • But it gets worse. Only 15.9% of technology workers think public sector technology work is in the top-three areas that would add value to their CV and experience. E-commerce, startups, software consultancy, fintech, Banking and large corporates all score higher.

Having established that this phenomenon is not uncommon in the world, back in India, there are over a million vacancies for the country's most coveted jobs - employment in the Central government - and they're just not getting filled. These include the police and defence forces, which together have nearly 700,000 estimated vacant posts, valued for the security of tenure and reliable, inflation-linked pay and pension schemes that they offer. The outlook is even bleaker if we take vacancies for skilled professionals such as doctors, scientists, statisticians and economists. These, if left vacant, could dent India's growth prospects in the near future. Based on data from 2011, the situation does seem alarming and we have no reason to believe that things have improved. And it is not because we have run out of people in the country to fill them. We are just unable to get people with the right skills to take these jobs anymore.

The irony of the issue is that we have an equally large if not bigger number of unemployed, unemployable and educated unemployed in the country making this a seemingly easy fix. But that is not the case.  


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