Govt leadership shortage: Growing age gap

Among Thailand's 2 million civil servants leadership candidates in their 40s missing after many left govt service for better jobs.



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Economics

Demographic wave threatens Thai companies, bureaucracy

Civil servants in their 40s largely missing
28/05/2012
Soonya Vanichkorn

Demographic changes are set to pose serious challenges to organisations, more serious perhaps than threats from competitors, economic conditions and unfair regulation.

In the next 3-5 years, the world will likely face a shortage of leaders as current ones retire and too few young people are available to replace them, says the APM Group, a Thai human resources consultancy.

Speaking at a forum entitled "Surviving the Coming Leadership Shortfall", Nontigorn Kanchanachitra, secretary-general of the Office of the Civil Service Commission, said nowhere is the leadership gap more apparent than in Thailand's civil service.

"There's a huge age gap among civil servants, with people in their 40s largely missing as they find better jobs elsewhere," he said.

Thailand has 2 million civil servants, with an average age of 42.

Most are in their 50s or older, while the rest are in their 20s and 30s.

"Those in their 50s from the Baby Boom generation are dedicated to their organisations, tend to be more conservative and prefer to stick to the rules. They often get annoyed with those in their 20s or 30s, as Generations X and Y never seem to stay in one place while working and like to socialise a lot," said Mr Nontigorn, adding that age differences often makes communication difficult.

Over the next three years, more than 60% of civil servants ranked C-9 to C-11 will be gone from the service as they reach official retirement age.

The percentage could be higher in some places such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Because the age gap is so large, the next generation of leaders will stay in high-ranking positions for longer before they reach retirement age," said Mr Nontigorn.

Given the fast pace of change in the region such as the formation of the Asean Economic Community, it is important for the new generation of leaders to possess the necessary skills to propel the country forward.

Mr Nontigorn said the selection process for high-ranking civil service posts does have some drawbacks.

"The public sector is not an open system like the private sector, where you can headhunt for the best CEOs to work for your organisation," he said.

Laws and regulations do not allow outsiders to take up leadership positions in the civil service such as director-generalships or provincial governor posts without having worked for several years in the system first.

While such a rule deters politicians from staffing the civil service with allies and provides a clearer career path for the civil servants, it is limiting, said Mr Nontigorn.

"Perhaps there may be a need to revise this and make the system more open and less based on seniority, age and length of time spent in the bureaucracy," he said.

The bureaucracy spends a lot of time finding the best candidates.

Entrance exams must be open to everyone in order to avoid any accusations of discrimination.

This year 1 million people are expected to take the civil service exams, up from 800,000 in previous years.

"There's been talk of whether leaders in the public sector should sit English-language exams and also have their knowledge about Asean countries tested before being promoted to high-ranking positions," said Mr Nontigorn.

Arinya Talerngsri, the APM Group's managing director, said it is imperative for leaders in both the private and the public sectors to possess basic skills, especially reasoning, given the technological and social changes taking place in the world.

"As they are bombarded continuously with overwhelming amounts of information, it is important they know what to select and not get lost in the mass of information coming towards them," said Ms Arinya.

Other important skills that future leaders need to possess or cultivate are virtual collaboration or knowing how to communicate effectively with colleagues across space and time without having to meet them face-to-face.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Economics, Demographic wave threatens Thai companies, bureaucracy, Civil servants in their 40s largely missing, 28/05/2012, Soonya Vanichkorn, link

Workforce Vocabulary


workforce - all the people who work for companies and organizations or are available to be hired by them

demography (noun) - the science of population (See Wikipedia and also see Wikipedia on demographics of Thailand)

demographic
(adjective)
demographic changes

wave - 1. a large number of people moving to or arriving at a place at the same time; 2. something that behaves like a wave, rising and falling over time 
demographic wave - a demographic change that happens over a long period of time 

bureaucracy - large government departments and the many government workers and officials who work in them

Demographic wave threatens Thai companies, bureaucracy

civil service - government employees chosen by merit as proven by competitive examinations (See Wikipedia)
merit - a good quality that someone has (examples: the hardworking employee was promoted on the basis of merit)
civil service exams - the competitive examinations given to win entry into the civil service and then promotion within the civil service

posts - positions ตำแหน่ง
civil service posts
high-ranking civil service posts - very high-level government jobs like head of a ministry

civil servants - government workers, part of a system (the civil service) that provides job security (See Wikipedia)
civil servants in their 40s largely missing
civil servants ranked C-9 to C-11

set to - about to, ready to, will shortly (likely to happen soon)
pose - cause something, especially a problem or difficulty เป็นเหตุให้

challenges
- new and difficult problems to solve, that require effort and determination
set to pose challenges

serious challenges to organisations
pose serious challenges to organisations
set to pose serious challenges to organisations

regulation
- an official government rule that controls the way that things are done กฎระเบียบ ระเบียบข้อบังคับ
unfair regulation

Demographic changes are set to pose serious challenges to organisations, more serious perhaps than threats from competitors, economic conditions and unfair regulation.

shortage - when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน
shortage of leaders - not enough leaders

current
- of the present time ปัจจุบัน
current leaders - the leaders who are leading now

retire -
stop working and rest (usually when you reach age 60 or 65)
shortage of leaders as current leaders retire


replace - put a new person or thing in the place of someone who is leaving หาคนมาแทน
too few young people are available to replace them

resources - things used to help you achieve your goals; the materials, money, and other things needed for a person or organisation to function properly ทรัพยากรที่มีอยู่
Human Resources (HR) - the employees of an organization and all their skills (employees as resources)

consultant -
a person who gives expert advice in some specialized area (example: computer consultant, eartquake engineering consultant)
consultancy -
a group of consultants working together in a company
human resources
consultancy

In the next 3-5 years, the world will likely face a shortage of leaders as current ones retire and too few young people are available to replace them, says the APM Group, a Thai human resources consultancy.

forum - a place where people discuss and debate issues การประชุมแสดงความคิดเห็น
entitled ... - having the name ...
surviving - continuing to live and exist; not dieing
shortfall - not having enough of something
leadership shortfall - not having enough leaders

gap - a large difference between things, people or groups ช่องว่าง
age gap - a difference in ages
leadership gap - a big difference in the age of people who could become leaders (potential leaders)

apparent - easy to see, clear and obvious; noticeable, visible
nowhere is it more apparent than in .... - it is very apparent here ...

Speaking at a forum entitled "Surviving the Coming Leadership Shortfall", Nontigorn Kanchanachitra, secretary-general of the Office of the Civil Service Commission, said nowhere is the leadership gap more apparent than in Thailand's civil service. "There's a huge age gap among civil servants, with people in their 40s largely missing as they find better jobs elsewhere," he said.  Thailand has 2 million civil servants, with an average age of 42.  Most are in their 50s or older, while the rest are in their 20s and 30s.

generation - a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
baby boom generation - (See Wikipedia)

dedicated - believing that something is very important and giving a lot of time and energy to it ซึ่งอุทิศตัวเพื่อ spending much time and effort on something อุทิศให้ (a dedicated teacher ทรงเป็นพระอาจารย์ซึ่งทรงอุทิศพระวรกายในการให้ความรู้กับนักเรียน)

dedicated to their organizations

conservative - cautious, doesn't want to experiment, not willing to try new ideas
tend - to be likely to behave in a particular way or have a particular characteristic มักจะ
tend to be more conservative

stick to the rules
- follow the rules all the time (never break the rules)
annoyed - feeling slightly angry or impatient รู้สึกรำคาญใจ

socialise - to spend time with other people มีการติดต่อกับผู้คน
socialise a lot

communication

age differences often makes communication difficult

retirement - the time when you stop working, usually, but not always because you are officially too old to work เกษียณอายุ
official - approved by the government or some authority ที่เป็นทางการ
official retirement age

"Those in their 50s from the Baby Boom generation are dedicated to their organisations, tend to be more conservative and prefer to stick to the rules. They often get annoyed with those in their 20s or 30s, as Generations X and Y never seem to stay in one place while working and like to socialise a lot," said Mr Nontigorn, adding that age differences often makes communication difficult. Over the next three years, more than 60% of civil servants ranked C-9 to C-11 will be gone from the service as they reach official retirement age. The percentage could be higher in some places such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Because the age gap is so large, the next generation of leaders will stay in high-ranking positions for longer before they reach retirement age," said Mr Nontigorn.

pace - the speed and rhythm at which something happens ท่างทำนอง ย่างก้าว จังหวะ ที่สิ่งต่างๆ ดำเนินไป (See glossary)
the fast pace of change

propel - make something move 
propel the country forwards

skills
- a type of work or task requiring special training and knowledge ทักษะ ความสามารถเฉพาะทาง
skills to propel the country forward

possess
- to have or own something ครอบครอง, ถือครอง
possess the necessary skills to propel the country forward

selection - the process or activity of choosing or selecting something or someone (example: the selection of a faithful husband is important)
process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
selection process

selection process for high-ranking civil service posts

drawbacks
- things or features that make less acceptable, disadvantages

sector
- a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
public sector -
the government and all government activities, projects and employees

headhunt -
recruitment, activity of finding employees to work for a company or organization by persuading good employees in other companies to leave their company and come to work for the new company (See Wikipedia)

Given the fast pace of change in the region such as the formation of the Asean Economic Community, it is important for the new generation of leaders to possess the necessary skills to propel the country forward. Mr Nontigorn said the selection process for high-ranking civil service posts does have some drawbacks. "The public sector is not an open system like the private sector, where you can headhunt for the best CEOs to work for your organisation," he said.

regulations - rules made by the government to control how some activity is done กฎระเบียบ ระเบียบ ข้อบังคับ   ระเบียบปฏิบัติ
outsiders - person not belonging to the group (who does not know what is going on in the group)  
rule
deters

allies
- people, groups or countries that agree to work together ผู้ให้การสนับสนุน
politicians staffing the civil with allies

career - a job that a person does for much of their life (See Wikipedia)(See glossary)
career path - the series of jobs that a person has over time (hopefully adding valuable skills and experience to their resume)

Laws and regulations do not allow outsiders to take up leadership positions in the civil service such as director-generalships or provincial governor posts without having worked for several years in the system first. While such a rule deters politicians from staffing the civil service with allies and provides a clearer career path for the civil servants, it is limiting, said Mr Nontigorn.

revise - improve, create again or recreate with improvements
seniority - greater age or a more important social position ที่อาวุโส
spent - used ที่ใช้ไป
accusations - bad things that others say that you have done (but not yet proven)
discrimination - the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others
accusations of discrimination
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
tested - put in a difficult situation ถูกทดสอบ
promoted - moved to a higher position in the organization

"Perhaps there may be a need to revise this and make the system more open and less based on seniority, age and length of time spent in the bureaucracy," he said. The bureaucracy spends a lot of time finding the best candidates. Entrance exams must be open to everyone in order to avoid any accusations of discrimination. This year 1 million people are expected to take the civil service exams, up from 800,000 in previous years. "There's been talk of whether leaders in the public sector should sit English-language exams and also have their knowledge about Asean countries tested before being promoted to high-ranking positions," said Mr Nontigorn.

bombarded continuously with overwhelming amounts of information
mass - large numbers จำนวนมหาศาล
not get lost in the mass of information coming towards them
cultivate - develop and improve something, make it better
important skills that future leaders need to possess or cultivate

collaboration
- when people work together to achieve a goal
virtual - so similar to the real thing that you can treat it as the real thing เสมือนจริง
virtual collaboration - working with people over the internet or over the phone

effectively - working well and producing the results that they wanted
communicate effectively - talk with people or email that actually helps get a job done

colleagues - the people you work with; people who work together in a high-level professional job
knowing how to communicate effectively with colleagues

meet them face-to-face - actually meet people at their desk or in a meeting (not just communicating over internet or phone)

Arinya Talerngsri, the APM Group's managing director, said it is imperative for leaders in both the private and the public sectors to possess basic skills, especially reasoning, given the technological and social changes taking place in the world. "As they are bombarded continuously with overwhelming amounts of information, it is important they know what to select and not get lost in the mass of information coming towards them," said Ms Arinya. Other important skills that future leaders need to possess or cultivate are virtual collaboration or knowing how to communicate effectively with colleagues across space and time without having to meet them face-to-face.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer