The World Needs Many More Public Servants

Article by Ngaire Woods: “The private sector alone cannot make the massive investments required to achieve a carbon-neutral future and hold societies together through the twenty-first century’s economic, political, and climate-related crises. To enable governments to do so, policymakers must avoid austerity measures and recruit high-quality personnel….Policymakers around the world will need to address a confluence of economic, political, and climate-related shocks in 2023. While governments cannot solve these crises alone, deft political leadership will be crucial to holding societies together and enabling communities and businesses to step up and do their part. What the world desperately needs is public servants and politicians who are willing and able to innovate…

In an ideal world, the magnitude of humanity’s current challenges would attract some of the most creative and highly motivated citizens to public service. In many countries, however, public-sector pay has sunk to levels that make it increasingly difficult to attract top talent. In the United Kingdom, as the Financial Times’ Martin Wolf notes, while overall real private-sector pay has increased by 5.5% since 2010, public-sector wages have fallen by 5.9%, with much of that decline happening in the last two years. The result is a personnel deficit at every level. Recent data from the National Health Service in England show a huge nurse shortfall. Other data show that teacher recruitments are well below target.

Too often, the public sector falls into a vicious cycle of cost-cutting and resignations. Nurses in the UK are overworked and many will likely succumb to exhaustion soon, leaving their remaining colleagues even more overburdened and demoralized. Another austerity wave will make it even harder to retain quality workers…(More)”.