Junior Professionals Programme open for contract agents – or not

DG Human Resources and Security (DG HR) has recently announced changes to the Junior Professionals Programme (JPP). The most important change is that now all contract agents (CAs), from function group 1 (FGI) to FGIV, can apply for the programme. Sounds too good to be true? Congratulations for recognising this, you are definitely an experienced colleague at the Commission.

The current rules for the JPP state that you cannot have more than 3 years of professional experience and that you must have a university degree. However, of all CAs, only FGIVs are required (Staff Regulations) to have a university degree. If DG HR thinks that there are a number of potential candidates in the FGI-FGIII groups it is testimony to the fact that we do not employ CAs according to their qualifications and experience. The keywords here are ‘social dumping’.

But let’s ignore the prevalent practice of employing and paying colleagues in grades which are well below their experience and qualifications (while, of course, happily making use of said experience and qualifications) and focus on the second condition of ‘at most 3 years of professional experience’. We have looked at some vacancy notices for CAs (FGIII and FGIV) to find out whether it is actually possible to get a job in the Commission without substantial prior professional experience. Please find some examples below.

  • Proven professional experience of at least 2 years in the areas as stated in section 2, demonstrating a solid knowledge in data protection including an understanding of data protection risks in eu-LISA initiatives; eu-LISA/20/CA/FGIII/11.1
  • Minimum three (3) years’ work experience (acquired after the minimum qualification/education, as required under part 3A) in a position related to the main duties described under part 2 above; ESMA/2020/VAC14/FGIV
  • At least 3 years, (following the award of the diploma), of professional experience acquired in positions relevant to the job description; ECDC/FGIV/2020/PHF-SC
  • Proven professional experience in similar tasks related to programme or project management for at least 3 years; EASO/2020/CA/007

And so on and so forth. The bottom line is simple: to become a CA (FGIII or FGIV) in the Commission, you need so much professional experience that you can never make it into the JPP. There are now two possible conclusions here:

  1. DG HR is unaware of the conditions that CA colleagues must fulfil in order to work in our services; or
  2. they do know and just don’t care: they couldn’t give a monkey’s.

One last fun fact: if you hire newcomers without any substantial professional experience, you are obviously aiming to get generalists. In contrast, as the Court of Auditors recently stated in its Special Report 23/2020, ‘competitions run by EPSO broadly enabled the institutions to meet their needs for recruits with generalist profiles but … they proved less efficient and effective for recruiting specialists’. In other words, the JPP is a solution in search of a problem: EPSO already provides the generalists the institutions need, so what is the purpose of the JPP? Unless of course somebody specifically wants to hire a person fresh from university without ensuring first this person succeeds in one of our rather fierce competitions. We can only wonder why DG HR might want to avoid a level playing field for these chosen few …

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.

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