‘Continued challenges’ getting overseas staff

IT is becoming harder to attract and retain overseas candidates for government roles, according to the Jersey Appointments Commission’s annual report.

Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan: the pandemic ‘changed the way recruitment was carried out across the world. Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (31050300)
Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan: the pandemic ‘changed the way recruitment was carried out across the world. Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (31050300)

The body – which oversees the recruitment of States employees, appointees and senior members of independent bodies – said the problem was down to candidates needing to care for their children and elderly relatives.

It added that government HR teams were working to see how they could better attract local applicants.

The report said: ‘We have also seen continued challenges in attracting and securing candidates needing to relocate to the Island from other jurisdictions. A predominant reason is the responsibility for caring for children or elderly relatives, which disproportionately affects women candidates.

‘The [government] has in place a substantial support and relocation package but although understanding the issues, it remains disappointing that we are losing good-quality candidates for these reasons.

‘We have seen a slight increase in local candidates applying for the senior roles which have the oversight of the JAC but would still like to see more. The succession-planning policy introduced last year may be beginning to see positive results.’

The report added that the government had been experiencing trouble trying to fill two executive positions due to a lack of appropriate candidates. This was despite managing to fill nine different roles at the same level.

‘While the director of property has now completed, all three assignments lacked suitably qualified candidates both on and off Island and even after rerunning the search, two remain unfilled, with an interim covering the Our Hospital project director role and the director of capital projects being currently covered by internal resources and recruitment to recommence in quarter-one 2021.’

Issues regarding gender were also highlighted in the report, with some panel members being accused of putting forward inappropriate questions and comments.

It recommended that all panel members undergo regular unconscious-bias training and be properly trained in recruitment.

‘Sometimes previous experience is used as a substitute, but this is unreliable.

‘There have been occasions where commissioners have had to intervene to prevent the use of inappropriate comment or questions for some applicants asking, for example, questions relating to child-care arrangements,’ the report said.

‘Training in unconscious bias would be a helpful addition, establishing a pool on which to draw. Training in selection should not be a once-and-forever event but should consist of regular refresher programmes as standards improve and take account of new legislation and case law.’

Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan, vice-chairman of the States Employment Board, welcomed the report and said the pandemic had ‘changed the way recruitment was carried out across the world’.

He said: ‘We are grateful that the commission has recognised that many of their previous recommendations have been addressed by this SEB and we continue to make public service appointments fairer and more transparent.

‘As a board, we are committed to equal opportunities and fair reward for all our employees and we will continue to champion diversity in appointments and appointing to all roles on merit.

‘The commission’s report acknowledges a more “evenly matched” distribution of appointments at the upper-tier level; the resourcing team continue to work at providing more detailed analysis in this area.’

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