Sunday 24 September 2017

'Greying' public sector needs new recruits, unions warn

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Government is insisting there is scope for new recruits to freshen up the public sector as new figures reveal the average public sector worker is 46 – and almost half are aged over 50.

Trade unions are now warning that the age profile is a threat and presents a big challenge for the future, with just 4pc of workers aged under 30.

The figures illustrate the effect of the recruitment embargo on some areas of the public sector.

The statistics from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform show the age breakdown of workers, with 287,000 in the public sector this year – a number that is expected to fall to 282,500 by the end of 2014.

The figures show:

* 8pc are aged 60 or over;

* 37pc – around 106,190 – are aged between 50 and 59;

* 28pc fall into the 40 to 49 bracket;

* 23pc of workers are in their 30s;

* And just 4pc – around 11,480 – are younger than 30.

General secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants Dave Thomas called the situation "entirely unsustainable".

"The civil service is full of extremely talented individuals who have an excellent grasp of their various portfolios, but there needs to be a succession plan in place for staff," he said.

"Unless greater action is taken, all of the experience and corporate knowledge currently in the system will be lost within a matter of years."

But a spokesman for Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that although numbers working in the public sector would drop in the next few years, there was still scope for fresh recruitment.

"There is still scope to introduce 'new blood' to help address skills gaps and the current imbalances in age structure in the civil service," the spokesman said.

Irish Independent

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