Headlines: September 4th, 2002

Urgent action must be taken to tackle the causes of staff shortages in the public sector, according to a new Audit Commission report.’Recruitment and Retention: A public service workforce for the 21st century’ says employers and central government both have a role to play if quality staff are going be available in sufficient quantity for modernisation to be successful.

A survey carried out for the report focussed on the thoughts of leavers from the four million strong workforce that provides education, local government and the NHS. Many former public sector employees said they felt that the government relied too heavily on staff good will and desire to make a difference, and experienced a working environment in which they felt unable to meet rising public expectations.

The Audit Commission says employers need to understand why people leave, and what could potentially make employees stay on. Central governmentmust also be seen to provide greater support for public sector workers.

The report also says that staff shortages could reach crisis point inpublic services, particularly in London and the South East.

Only one in five former public sector employees surveyed by the Audit Commission had had an exit interview or had been asked to fill in a questionnaire. The commission says that with so little understanding among public sector employers of the reasons why people leave, it will be difficult to build an environment in which they are likely to want tostay

Leavers surveyed said the image of working for public service also needed a make-over if younger people were to be attracted in.

Link: www.audit-commission.gov.