Competence development and recruitment in the central government – Central government steering

The central government steers the number of staff in government agencies even in great detail. However, at central government level, the number of staff is not planned. Competence development is one of the focus areas in the central government HR policy. However, the targets set for competence development in performance management have been general in nature.

The audit assessed the central government steering of recruitment and competence development. The audit was conducted at the same time as another audit, where competence development and recruitment were examined at agency level.

At the end of 2021, the number of staff in on-budget entities was 78,230, and the labour costs in 2021 amounted to EUR 4,814 million. Most of the central government’s current staff will change during the decade. How the central government manages to replace the loss of staff through staff planning, recruitment, and competence development will have a significant impact on the operational capacity of government agencies and institutions.

The central government does not have strategic staff planning that would define the desired number of central government staff in the longer term. However, targets have been set task or unit-specifically even in great detail. The targets set for the number of staff have been fairly clear, although they have often changed.

The central government organizes itself the training required in the duties for up to a quarter of its staff, e.g. a large share of the staff of the Defence Forces, the Police, the Finnish Border Guard, the Emergency Response Centre Administration, and the Criminal Sanctions Agency. Long-term planning of student places is a precondition for achieving the targets set for the number of staff. The number of students who have completed their studies has varied a great deal, which has hampered the achievement of the HR targets.

The central government’s common HR policy themes have been competence development, promotion of mobility, and improvement of the central government’s employer image. The themes are reflected in performance agreements, but on a general level. A more detailed definition of the themes and a description of the baseline would support the agencies in setting their own targets.