A NEW government taskforce may be set up to address the growing problem of recruitment in the public sector, according to an Assistant Chief Minister.
St John Constable Andy Jehan, a member of the States Employment Board, said that attracting and keeping hold of skilled staff was the greatest challenge facing the new board.
‘Top of our agenda has got to be recruitment. We are looking at putting a taskforce in to really focus on recruitment, and retention is obviously very important too.
‘But we have got high levels of vacancies across key departments and we’ve got to find ways of encouraging people to join the public sector, and when we’ve got them we’ve got to keep them because we’ve also seen a lot of churn,’ he said.
With vacancies in healthcare running at 15% and Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment this week highlighting the fact that a fifth of the posts required for a new strategy for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service have yet to be filled, Mr Jehan said the Island was becoming increasingly reliant on staff employed through agencies.
‘We’ve got to find ways of attracting people to the Island and from the Island.
‘People have left the organisation and perhaps we can find ways of attracting some of them back,’ he said.
Government chief executive Suzanne Wylie is working on streamlining processes for staff engagement, but the Constable had no doubt of the cause of the current recruitment crisis.
‘I’m not underestimating the cost-of-living challenges that we all face but I think housing is our biggest issue, and having housing which is attractive enough for people to want to live there.
‘It’s one thing providing basic housing but it needs to be somewhere people are going to be comfortable and we’ve got a lot of work to do there,’ he said.
Mr Jehan added that the Be Heard survey, which last year revealed that only 36% of public-sector staff would recommend it as a great place to work, will be repeated in 2023, with the results published in the autumn.
Speaking of the government’s approach to public-sector reform, Mr Jehan heralded the creation of the new cabinet office as a major step forward, but added that the new Council of Ministers needed to be given time for wider organisational reform.
‘I don’t see any knee-jerk reaction at this time.
‘I think we need to be calm and considered, and find out more from the staff and the people,’ he said.