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Threat to Caribbean public sector

Published: 
Monday, May 21, 2018
ACCA warning on unclear career paths:

Young finance professionals in the public sector are in the dark about their future due to a lack of transparent career paths, according to a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Generation Next: managing talent in the public sector found that young finance professionals in the Caribbean value clear career paths, but only 17 per cent believe clear paths exist in their current organisation.

The report is the last in ACCA’s global Generation Next series, which explores the work preferences and career ambitions of over 1,400 ACCA members and students working in the public sector, aged 16 to 36 years old.

Alex Metcalfe, ACCA head of public sector policy said: “Generation Next respondents in the public sector say a transparent career path is the most important issue in both attracting them to an employer and retaining them there.

“Across the sector, developing talent has been a challenge given austerity and the tightening of government budgets, which often hit learning and development budgets. The Generation Next survey showed that 96 per cent of respondents were attracted to public sector employers that would provide the opportunity for them to learn and develop skills. It is essential public organisations meet this challenge.”

The research also found that experience at work was essential for attraction and retention in the public sector. The sector itself can offer a dynamic work experience, where employees can develop professionally whilst working to tackle leading societal challenges.

Speaking on T&T’s respondents’ views of what constituted effective learning and development in the public sector, Julie Hotchkiss, ACCA market director of Europe and Americas said: “On-the-job learning was one of the most-used learning activities in the sector globally, and was ranked the third highest effective learning strategy by public sector respondents in Trinidad and Tobago (29 per cent).

“Job rotations and secondment were considered to be the most effective (38 per cent) followed by attending external workshops (32 per cent). On-the-job learning and job rotations are forms of experiential learning, where the employee ‘learns through doing’. Clearly, there is an opportunity for public sector employers to increase the use of these experiential forms of learning to increase the effectiveness of their learning and development strategies.”

A large majority of Generation Next in the Caribbean believe technology will enable finance professionals to focus on much higher value-added activities in the future. 91 per cent of public sector respondents in the Caribbean take this view, compared with 87 per cent across the global public sector.

The next generation of professional accounts in the public sector are imagining diverse careers and gaining a depth of work experience. The future of talent in the public sector is facing many forces of change. It is vital that employers respond to the work preferences of Generation Next in order to position themselves best for responding to this changing landscape.

Alex concluded: “Public sector organisations are typically unable to compete on remuneration for top talent, but must instead communicate a holistic offering to their candidates that includes clear career paths and a positive work environment. Yet whatever strategies they decide to adopt, it is essential that public sector employers recognise the importance of talent management as a key component of their future strategies.”

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