Ageing and the Public Service

Human Resource Challenges

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Government workforces are ageing even more rapidly than the rest of society. This raises specific challenges and opportunities. An ageing public service increases fiscal burdens while decreasing immediate capacities to deliver services. In the long run, however, it also offers a strategic opportunity to downsize the public sector workforce if necessary and to change employment conditions and the management of government employees where this is deemed reasonable. This book reviews the experience of 9 OECD member countries in this field. It presents some conclusions on strategies that countries could implement in order to adjust their human resource policies to the wider ageing challenge. 

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The Ageing Challenge

This chapter examines issues resulting from an ageing population and an ageing workforce. As a result of large increases in the ratio of older economically inactive persons per worker, two main challenges have emerged: the need to reallocate human resources across sectors and institutions and the need to increase productivity due to the fiscal pressures created by an ageing population. There are specific challenges within the public service, where workforces are ageing more rapidly. These present opportunities in the management of public services. Although an ageing public service increases the fiscal burden while also decreasing the public service capacity, in the long run it represents a strategic opportunity to downsize the public sector workforce where needed, to make structural changes to the conditions of employment, introducing greater flexibility, and to reallocate human resources across sectors to meet the increased needs in social and long-term care services for the elderly.

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