Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Personnel
One of the most critical challenges facing public administration is the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel. While the problem of attracting talent into public service is not new, the introduction and rapid expansion of the high technology and Internet industry, the problem has reached crisis proportions. Both the public and private sector have embraced the Information Age with increasing dependence on a skilled and versatile workforce. Private industry responded by developing greater versatility in expanding and contracting their workforce to compliment the strategic requirements and goals of the organization. Public administration did not adequately recognize the changes in private industry that had such a significant impact on the workforce. In the past twenty years the workforce, who had previously expected to spend their career with a single employer, has adjusted to a norm of changing employers several times, (and in many cases changing career paths). This changing expectation of the workforce necessitates not only policy changes in public administration, but far better flexibility in hiring, rewarding and retaining methods.
The shift to broader based training and advanced skills have changed the expectations of the workforce. Workers are increasingly less content with remaining within a single occupational discipline and have matched the flexibility and agility of their employers. Public administrators have increasingly recognized the need to modify reward and incentive programs placing much greater emphasis on performance than tenure.
Private business, with its ability to change and re-focus strategic goals and objectives at will, also has the ability to entice and retain the talent they require, the agility in changing skill mix and greater flexibility in reducing the workforce. The need to incorporate similar flexibility in public administration has been recognized and addressed by congressional committees, public agencies, human resources professionals, and public administration academicians. This research paper focuses on the issues, recommendations and recent initiatives to address competitive recruitment and retention in contemporary public administration.
Understanding the Shortfalls
The crisis in recruiting and retaining talented personnel has multiple fronts. Public service has become increasingly less attractive to college graduates, more and more long term employees are seeking early retirement, and retaining mid level employees from enticing positions in the private sector are major reasons the government has severe shortages in qualified and talented management. In his testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform, Steven Kellman, a professor of Public Management at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, points out disturbing trends in the hiring rate of college...