With government agencies at all levels confronted by ongoing labor shortages and hiring challenges, it can be a challenge to allow staff to take time off for post-secondary education.
According to an article in American City & County, new research from the MissionSquare Research Institute, the National Association of State Personnel, and the Public Sector HR Association, public sector organizations are still facing labor shortages that began during the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing hiring challenges.
In a survey entitled “State and Local Workforce: 2023 Survey Findings” of nearly 250 state and local government human resource managers conducted from March 10 to April 25, government agencies hired more full-time and part-time staff last year than they did in 2021, but also reported that quits and retirements had also increased. In all, 53 percent of those organizations in the survey reported an increase in their full-time workforce, 27 percent reported it remained the same, and 17 percent said it had decreased.
In addition, 13 percent reported their employees were accelerating their retirement plans and 30 percent indicated current staff members were prepared for retirement, while it was more common for organizations to report an increase in people leaving than a decrease.
Meanwhile, in an effort to widen their applicant pools, about three in 10 organizations have dropped educational degree requirements for some positions begging the question of whether they would be as open to offering their employees educational opportunities. Forward-leaning organizations use educational opportunities to attract their talent and require one to two years of continued employment to pay the agency back.
So, the real issue for many government organizations remains whether the ultimate benefit of educational development is worth the short-term investment.
At the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, there has been a rebound from the pandemic downturn in applications for its shorter-term educational programs such as the Executive Leaders Program and the Emergence Program, while applications for longer-term educational programs have been slower to recover.
At the same time, interest in the CHDS educational programs is on the upswing. A recent CHDS executive recruitment briefing drew nearly 350 participants asking a range of questions about the various educational programs.
CHDS Strategic Communications Director Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran pointed out that supporting employees in applying to and completing a top-notch educational program has multiple benefits.
“When you can’t give your personnel a promotion or a raise, educational programs offer employees opportunities to improve themselves and are an advantageous succession planning tool,” she said, adding that those employees will “provide better collaboration and strategic thinking no matter what the threat is.”