Why work in the public sector?


Yesterday, as part of our week-long spotlight on the public sector, Industry Canada human resources manager Linne Fournier broke down five of the biggest misconceptions about working in the public sector.

Today, Fournier gets more positive by answering some important questions about why students and recent grads should consider working for government organizations – aside from the job stability.

Stay tuned for a Q&A with a recent Concordia University economics grad who’s now working as an economist with Industry Canada which will be published bright and early tomorrow morning.

Q. What kinds of meaningful internships, co-ops and entry-level roles exist at various levels of government?

A. Internships and co-ops are highly supported and utilized programs in all levels of government. Most student recruitment intakes occur for the summer periods, but internships and co-ops are also available during the school year.

These opportunities are posted in universities and colleges across Canada and are accessible to all students via campus networks. Furthermore, recruitment campaigns for entry-level positions normally occur in the fall through the Public Service Commission for positions in various departments.

Industry Canada highly promotes the hiring of students and co-ops, and employers here are strong believers in bridging programs for students in order to retain those who have demonstrated the right skill set for the organization.

Some examples of meaningful internships and co-ops relate to patent examination, intellectual property, broadband and policy.

Q. What types of skills and training can young workers experience in public sector work that they may not experience elsewhere?

A. The experience, skills and training in the public sector offer an opportunity to learn about the programs and policies that affect Canadians in all walks of life.

Working in the public sector provides a sense of accomplishment and involvement in some of today’s important issues, such as the Canadian economy. There is a feeling of contributing to a bigger cause, and in helping shape the future of the country.

Q. Do government departments often make a point of “hiring from within” by bringing interns or co-op students into full-time roles?

A. The practice of hiring from within is aptly called the student bridging mechanism in the federal government. This mechanism enables managers to hire students on a full-time permanent basis after graduation. It is a common practice and highly utilized by many managers in all areas of government.

Q. What kinds of growth opportunities are there for interns, co-op students and young entry-level workers?

A.Intern and co-op students must establish learning plans with their employers upon arrival. This provides for a concrete learning plan which can include formal training, participation in meetings and job-shadowing.

Further to establishing specific work objectives, co-op students and interns are encouraged to discuss their ideas and innovate within the workplace. Many of these initial placements lead to subsequent job opportunities or placements.

As for young entry-level workers, there are a number of ways to integrate them in the workplace and provide them with opportunities to grow. One of these learning and growing opportunities is through the young professionals networks which exist in many sectors in Industry Canada.

Furthermore, many entry-level positions also offer career development programs. These are integrated promotion programs which develop and train young workers into senior positions within a short time frame.

Q. What extras, such as benefits packages, do public sector jobs typically offer?

A. Public sector jobs offer many things from benefit packages to flexible work hours in support of a healthy life. With regards to benefit packages in the public sector, they vary from job to job but find similar grounds with regards to leave options and health benefits, whether it is parental leave or education leave to medical and dental plans.

The public sector benefits can be researched by anyone on the Treasury Board website. In addition, public sector jobs can offer work flexibilities such as telework in some instances.

Q. Do young workers benefit from the experience of more experienced employees through mentorship or job shadowing programs?

A. Job shadowing and mentorship are two very strong concepts in the public service, and formal programs are in place in support of these. Mentorship programs help match young employees to more senior employees in the hope of developing and sharing corporate knowledge and experience.

In the same train of thought, job shadowing is a more informal way of learning but is just as helpful. This concept in an everyday occurrence in this department and allows for a better transfer of information and knowledge.