CESI Symposium on the Public Sector in Europe: a first-rate employer acting in the general interest? Day 1

11 Oct 2013

The European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions and delegations from member organisations throughout Europe gathered in Hamburg today (10 October) for the first day of the CESI symposium on the Public Sector in Europe: a first-rate employer acting in the general interest? Expert speakers from a variety of public sector institutions contributed to the discussions which focused on the challenges of recruitment and retention of high quality staff in this field.

CESI Symposium on the Public Sector in Europe: a first-rate employer acting in the general interest? Day 1

In this time of crisis, austerity policies and budgetary pressures currently translate into a low level of renewal in public services and a reduced number of job openings. However, in the long term, the fact that the generation which is entering the labour market is smaller than the generation which is leaving it will pose problems both with regard to the attractiveness of the public sector as an employer, particularly with regard to the most qualified employees. This is also the case when it comes to the competitiveness of the public service as compared to the private sector.

President of the Europe Academy, Emilio Fatovic (Confederazione Generale dei Sindacati Autonomi dei Lavoratori), welcomed speakers and delegates to the symposium in Hamburg, an appropriate setting for the debate as the city awarded the title as best public sector recruiter in 2012. First Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz shared some best practices in recruitment and retention in light of this recent award.

Vice President of the dbb and CESI Commission President for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Kirsten Lühmann also contributed to the welcome session by highlighting the fact that even though public sector cuts had taken place in Europe at different times and at varying paces, the number of public sector workers has reduced throughout the EU, impacting detrimentally on the working conditions for employers.

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Discussions continued with a demographic approach to the challenges facing public sector workers from a Policy Analyst from the OECD. Oscar Huerta Melchor (OECD) underlined how government downsizing in the public sector impacted negatively on the morale, trust, quality and expertise in delivering public services.

A common theme throughout the day’s debate was focused on how the public sector is currently undergoing change – demographic, generational and structural. In many cases, in particular in the context of the economic crisis this is forced change. However, generational and cultural differences were also raised as factors for the changing nature of the public sector.

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CESI Europe Academy Emilio Fatovic and FEMM President Kirsten Lühmann at the symposium

Commenting on the opening session, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “Employees, old and young, often have the best solutions to the challenges facing the public sector. They are, after all, those who face these challenges day-to-day. A bottom-up approach needs to be encouraged with the staff at the heart of reforms where reforms are being introduced.”

The contributions and presentations of all speakers will soon be available on the CESI Europe Academy website, which can be accessed via CESI’s website.