My friend Mike Morgan published a web-exclusive op-ed in yesterday’s Globe entitled “Attracting talent: How to make the civil service a sexy thing.”
The idea of having government pay for university tuition in exchange for a term of service is worth exploring. Interestingly it isn’t just the military that uses this model. Numerous elite consulting firms – such as McKinsey – often offer to pay the tuition of employees graduate school work in exchange for a period of service. If the employee elects to leave before the term of service is up then they take on a portion of the tuition. The model is not perfectly analogous since this is for graduate and not undergraduate work, but there are companies out there doing something similar.
One thing is for certain however, the government needs a scalable program that is front, as opposed to backend loaded. At the moment the “reward” for being in government comes after 20 plus years of service when you start gathering your pension. I know of few 20 year-olds who are thinking 25 years down the line, or who want a single employer for their entire life. Knowing that your entitlement is 25 years out isn’t as strong an incentive these days. Mike’s idea flips this, creating an immediate and tangible incentive – a university education – that can be leveraged for other opportunities across one’s career, not just at its end.
Most importantly, it is scalable. It addresses a system wide demand for talent, not just demand at the elite level, which is the focus of the Recruitment of Policy Leaders and Accelerated Economist Training Program target. We are not going to solve the recruitment problem by attracting 50 RPLers and 14 AETPers every year.
Special shout out to Jascha J. who caught a typo in this post. People regularly email me when the notice something is amiss – I’m deeply grateful to everyone for that.