It’s hard to defend jobs for life

Have your say

To restrict the term of senior appointments in public services to a maximum of seven years would bring a great benefit to society in general.

The present system affords the person appointed a period of unlimited tenure: in effect a job for life. Such protection from the uncertainties of real life and so greatly at variance to experience in the private sector is hard to defend.

The result is reduced effectiveness and productivity, with resistance to change of established practice and organisation: which change could give benefits to the nation as a whole.

A few percentage points makes all the difference to the success or otherwise of an enterprise.

We should be acutely aware of the immutability and impersonal operation of “economic law” or process: no person or group are favoured.

Yet a substantial number of important occupations receive this unwarranted privilege of secure tenure and unlimited funds to ensure wages will always be paid from general taxation.

A maximum of five year tenure probably does not afford enough time for the individual to make a mark, as mid term uncertainties set in as soon as three years into a contract, and would distract from the main aim –see politics in UK and USA. Seven years provides ample time to demonstrate merit and a good outcome to management effort.

All public administration would be included in this revised hiring policy including local government, health, judicial and educational activities plus public broadcasting.

We all need the spur of criticism and some fear of the economic unknown and most managers would show surprising dynamism within this new system and merit reappointment in the same or similar occupation after the expiration of their term.

A great bonus would be the extension of such a scheme to EC activities with a start in Brussels and Strasbourg. Better management, downsizing and slimmer government would work wonders.

Jim McAndrew