Appendix A - Preliminary Summary of Departments' Reports on Recruitment

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  • On February 15, 2000, the Clerk of the Privy Council sent a call letter to Deputy Ministers requesting information on their department's plans for recruitment, retention and learning. A total of 29 replies were expected.
  • This document reflects general observations in the replies, as well as more specific summaries of "what was learned" on recruitment. Requests for corporate support are highlighted in each section.

Some General Observations

  • The responses are as diverse as the departments themselves — the approaches very much reflect the business lines, size, nature and culture of each department.
  • Some Deputies provided detailed, quantitative analysis. Others offered more qualitative, creative, people-oriented solutions.
  • Overall, there has been a noticeable, positive shift from the pre-La Relève days. In particular, it is clear that human resources management issues are being given a higher profile and taken more seriously at the most senior levels of the Public Service.
  • There is also consensus that, while some important and innovative progress has been made, departments are facing significant challenges on retention, learning and, especially, recruitment. However, it is not clear from the responses that the sense of urgency has penetrated down to the level of hiring managers.

Recruitment Trends

  • Responses to the call letters reveal that most departments believe that they are facing a significant recruitment challenge over the next five years, as they prepare for many retirements in an aging workforce.
  • Forecasted retirements at the executive levels and in the science and technology community are of particular concern.
  • Departments are generally concerned that their organizations are not representative and see the pending recruitment activity as the chance to right the current employment equity and youth imbalance.
  • Improving the representation of visible minorities, Aboriginals, and women at senior levels was cited most frequently as the challenges facing departments.
  • Particular challenges in achieving the goal were identified for some professions.
  • Departments did not explicitly link progress on representativeness to better business outcomes. Instead, the focus was on meeting legislative requirements. Several departments are addressing the results of Canadian Human Rights Commission audits.
  • Several departments have undertaken, or are undertaking, employment systems reviews as a result.
  • One department pointed out the complexity of recruitment, saying that recruitment is more than just hiring people. It emphasized the need to transfer acquired knowledge and experience from retiring people to those we hire.
  • Departments are at different stages, have individual needs and are facing different workforce pressures. But, in most cases, recruitment is still largely ad hoc, reactive and aimed at filling specific vacancies.
  • Most departments are in the planning phase and are developing employment equity action plans and recruitment strategies. There is little information yet on the specifics of what is planned.
  • Departments with more specific mandates and defined populations seem to be better positioned to develop targeted action plans and strategies.
  • There is less clarity on what needs to be done in the way of general recruitment across the Public Service.
  • It is not clear from the responses that the sense of urgency has penetrated below the most senior levels and into human resources and finance groups.
  • Several departments signalled the need to move to "overstocking" for a specified period of time to bring in and develop successors and help address the workload, including a shift to an electronic recruitment environment.
  • Functional communities and professions at risk were identified in the responses, with some regional variances reported:
    • science and technology
    • regulatory and inspection
    • policy
    • communications
    • human resources
    • administrative support, especially at junior levels
    • financial
    • economists
    • engineers
    • architects
    • information technology and computer systems
    • translators
    • medical and social
  • The projected use of the Post-Secondary Recruitment (PSR) program is up, although even those departments that are forecasting recruitment needs at several hundred people per year anticipate relatively limited intake using the PSR (compared to the thousands of people hired through the PSR in years past).
  • Departments that conduct their own recruitment activities on campus make better use of the PSR.
  • Some departments have created internship programs.
  • Some departments have established recruitment working groups and some have identified the number of additional recruits needed over the coming years.
  • Some departments have established integrated business planning frameworks, with human resources planning as an important component; while others identify the need for integrated planning.
  • Several departments framed their responses to the call letter in the context of their evolving business lines.
  • A few made explicit links to the skills and competencies that would drive recruitment efforts.
  • Competency-based human resources management has clearly taken hold.
  • Demographic forecasting is largely formula driven. The human factor has not yet been addressed (e.g., to more clearly understand people's retirement plans and develop creative retirement transition strategies).


  • There is consensus that an aging workforce will present significant challenges. But, in most cases, this has not translated into recruitment action plans.
  • There is also consensus that lack of representativeness is a serious problem.
  • To make progress it will be necessary to move from meeting legislative requirements to building business cases and, ultimately, to a true focus on merit.
  • A one-size-fits-all employment package will not meet the diverse needs of functional communities and regions.
  • Some departments are experienced recruiters and would be a source of practical expertise.

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