Headlines: August 17th, 2004

Almost eight out of ten finance departments in local government are seeing a move away from the ‘job for life’ culture. Although a quarter of departments surveyed by Hays Accountancy & Finance Public Services reported the average length of service to be ten years or more, more than a third said that the average was now less than five years. The results suggest the emergence of an increasingly flexible workforce where the ‘job for life’ is exchanged for a career path that may include roles in a number of public service sectors and the private sector.The increasingly transient workforce that this report identifies suggests new recruitment and retention challenges. Some 54% of respondents foresee increasing difficulty in attracting younger recruits into public service, while 61% predict a more acute skills shortage. Despite this, the research revealed that 64% of local government finance departments do not currently monitor age profile and 82% have no formal succession planning in place. Respondents also scored badly overall on structured career progression – only 54% currently offering formal career plans or continuous professional development – which is likely to be increasingly important to retain staff.

Andy Robling, National Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance Public Services, said: ” As candidates have more opportunities to move between roles and sectors, employers must pay more attention to recruitment and retention strategies if they are to avoid skills gaps and loss of organisational knowledge.”