THE PUBLIC SERVANT IN THE FUTURE: TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT*
D. C. CORBETT The usual way to train oneself for the public service in Australia seems
to be to join the service after leaving high school and then, while working, to enrol for part-time study towards a professional diploma, a university degree, or both. This pattern shows up strongly in the responses to a questionnaire sent to members of the South Australian Regional Group of the Royal lnstitute of Public Administration.
The questionnaire was sent to one in every ten persons on the member- ship list. Of twenty-five questionnaires sent out, twenty-two were answered and returned. The membership of the Group consists of a fairly broad occupational cross-section drawn from the services of the Commonwealth, the State government, semi-governmental authorities and local governments.
Of the twenty-two respondents, sixteen had joined the public service before their 18th birthday. Only one of the 22 had begun higher technical or tertiary education before joining the public service, and none had com- pleted a diploma or a university degree before joining. There were 14 who had completed their school leaving certificates or leaving honours ; six others had left school after finishing the Intermediate examination.
However, during their time in the public service (the average length of service to date was 24 years) the respondents had completed matricula- tion in 6 instances, plus 15 higher technical or professional diploma or certifi- cates, plus 10 university diplomas, plus 3 university degrees. And, further, five respondents were currently enrolled in professional or university diploma courses, plus five in university degree courses.
The most important is that it allows a man to earn his living while he studies, and this opens the door to higher education to almost anyone willing to work for it, n o matter what his parents' income. It follows, also, that the "part-timer'' tends to have more experience of the world and more maturity than a full- time student fresh from school. This should help the part-timer to put his book-and-lecture learning into perspective.
On the other hand, the Australian part-time study pattern has some really serious flaws, and I think it will have to be gradually replaced by a different one. Its faults are that it reduces higher education to a slow grind, and it takes too long. Part-time education lacks intensity, and the excitement of learning a lot of new things at once.
The median age of the South Australian R.I.P.A. sample was 44 years. Ten of the twenty-two respondents were still enrolled in studies at the tech- nical or the undergraduate level. The median age of these continuing students was 36+ years, only slightly lower than that of the group as a whole.
This pattern of part-time study has its virtues.
* A paper delivered to the Conference of the South Australian Regional Group on 25th May, 1%6.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT 21 3
At 363 years of age a man (and,...