Civil service faces ‘staffing crisis’ due to retirements

A staffing crisis is looming in the civil service because thousands of workers are nearing retirement and the Government is not doing enough to replace them.

That was the warning from Dave Thomas of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS), which represents 3,000 workers in the higher echelons of the public service.

Mr Thomas told his union’s annual conference in Dublin that within the civil service there are “considerable problems” where posts are left unfilled and the issue could escalate significantly in the next five to 10 years.

“The average age of a civil servant is 45,” he said. “70% of civil servants are over 40 years of age. Within the next five to 10 years 50% of those currently serving will have retired.”

He said staffing levels at management grades, which his union represents, highlight the problem.

Mr Thomas added that 65% of principal officers and 86% of assistant secretariesare 50 years of age or over.

“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are acutely aware of the looming problems and have embarked on a recruitment process for specialised grades at administrative officer level,” he said. “While we welcome this, we think that the current manpower planning review has to provoke a greater response from the Government.”

Mr Thomas cited the example of reductions in staffing levels in the office of the Revenue Commissioners which, he said, compromised the ability of staff to collect taxes.

“(The Government) must recognise that it is in their interests to ensure that key roles such as those at senior management levels in the Revenue Commissioners are filled rather than left vacant. Failure to do so we will ultimately mean a cost to the Exchequer rather than a saving,” he said. “While the Croke Park Agreement continues to be the best means of achieving reforms while maintaining positive industrial relations, this aspect does require attention.”


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