Since debuting in 2000, Survivor has traversed the world and humanity over 38 seasons. It birthed a new lexicon in modern vernacular – alliance, social game, hidden immunity idol, tribal council, blindside. Its folklore features iconic phrases like “come on in, guys”, “drop your buffs”, “let’s get to today’s immunity challenge”, “once again, immunity is up for grabs”, “time to vote”, and “I’ll go tally the votes.”
Survivor brings new meaning to game theory. Reward and immunity challenges call upon players to manage relationships, unravel clues, solve puzzles, and compete physically. The winners are not always the smartest or strongest but those who learn quickest how to adapt to uncertainty, surprise, and change. It offers a millennial metaphor for the paradigm shift in public management.
What are the global context and trajectory? The OECD proclaims that, “The future of work is now.” It is fostering solutions-oriented conversations across sectors and countries to build a better world of work for all. Three priorities stand out:
How can technology shape the future of work in a positive way? Machines are doing routine tasks traditionally done by people. Due to big data, artificial intelligence, and ever-increasing computing power, complex tasks are becoming automated. New jobs like robot trainer and digital ethics specialist are different in job type and quality from those that are disappearing.
14 per cent of jobs in OECD countries are highly automatable.
32 per cent could face substantial changes in how they are carried out.
- SKILLS AND LEARNING
How do we keep skills and learning relevant in the changing world of work? Changes in jobs mean changes in skillsets. Jobs that do not exist today require skills not yet conceived, along with life-long learning. But are those with the greatest needs getting trained?
More training goes to adults 25-53 who are employed with medium-high income and skills.
Less training goes to adults over 53 who are unemployed with low income and skills.
- SOCIAL PROTECTION
How can we improve social protection so that everyone benefits? More people have non-standard jobs, where they work part-time, have temporary contracts, or are self-employed as ‘gig’ workers. In many countries, social benefits and collective bargaining assume that people have a stable, full-time job with a single employer. This model is obsolete.
Most self-employed workers have no access to unemployment benefits in half the G20 countries.
37 per cent risk not receiving health benefits.
What is the working reality on the ground, especially for new public servants? We need to tap what is on the mind of next-generation leaders to anticipate the future of public service. Their views may also inform the thematic focus of Canadian Government Executive going forward.
The 2020 class of first-year candidates in the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law program at York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration is the sample. These part-time graduate students are young professionals and mid-career managers who take courses on campus or downtown, weeknights and weekends. They have busy lifestyles, balancing studies with work and family.
Public Management is the first course in the two-year MPPAL program. The final assignment is to select, research, and write an original article on a favourite theme or topic of interest. The purpose is to consolidate new learning, advance thought leadership, and practice creative writing.
At the conclusion of the Fall 2018 term, 52 students drafted short articles. Authors were asked to choose up to three key words each, resulting in 122 topic categorizations. Eleven articles survived voluntary, post-course rounds of review and editing and were submitted for CGE publication.
The thematic threads and topical issues are summarized in the accompanying table:
- People issues are front of mind in half the articles, pointing to the primacy of the HR function;
- Traditional planning, service, and finance priorities do not resonate with the authors;
- The granularity of topics under interrelated people, leading, and organizing themes correlates with the need for greater public service capacity to tackle complex policy management issues; and
- The robust sample size affords opportunity over time to discern trends in public service careers and to track issues in public management.
How does the student profile correlate with these results? The sample of part-time students is 70 per cent female and is more mature and experienced on average than typical master’s students. Their articles may offer value-added insights intriguing to CGE’s readership.
In homage to Survivor, good people who are good leaders make good policy for good governance – an honourable legacy to which Millennials can aspire.