The war for talent goes public

Today’s governments must learn how to compete in a lightning-fast labour market

Conventional wisdom has it that today’s best and brightest shun public service to seek better-compensated and more glamorous opportunities in the private sector. But a worldwide survey of Young Global Leaders (YGLs) conducted on behalf of the World Economic Forum found that many if not most of these talented individuals would like to work in public service if career paths in government were better aligned with today’s fast-changing knowledge economies.

In PwC’s 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, private sector leaders from 69 countries signalled their relentless focus on talent: the availability of key skills is their second greatest concern after economic volatility. But the world’s public sectors are non-combatants in the war for talent. So the challenge to the public sector is clear: governments must rapidly adopt private sector best practices in recruitment, retention, leadership and talent management.

PwC has produced this paper in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders to spark dialogue on workforce issues common to governments worldwide. We hope it will initiate a conversation on how governments can maintain their competitiveness in the war for talent, how private sector leaders can (and should) assist their public sector peers, and how aspiring leaders can prepare themselves for public service.