Young Professionals Pilot Programme 2018 – A new idea of DG HR sold for talent management!

A few days ago, DG HR announced on IntraComm the launch of the Young Professional Programme (link here) in spite of a mixed opinion expressed by the Commission Paritaire Interne de la Commission Europeenne (COPAR). DG HR has been discussing the programme – planned to start already March 2017(!) – with resource directors and staff representatives since the beginning of 2017. Generation 2004 has been rejecting the proposal as it is discriminatory and not transparent.

What is it about?

Let’s start with taking a critical look at the proposal. The context in which it has been put is that the Commission would like to respond to future challenges, both in terms of resources and people. So the Commission aims to make careers in the Commission more competitive against the national and international job markets in order to attract and retain the best people from across the EU.

Sounds very good, but what measures are proposed? Firstly, as going through an open EPSO competition appears to be a long and cumbersome procedure with little chance of success, it is concluded that diversified recruitment channels and improved selection procedures are necessary. Secondly – and most interestingly – DG HR intends to preserve and further improve the employment package, including pecuniary as well as non-pecuniary rights and career development. Thirdly, some measures are presented to make communication more effective, although the connection to the pilot programme may not be obvious.

So what is the solution to all this? Well, if you had expected after reading the above that the Commission was going to propose something that would improve your own career prospects or working situation, then most probably you will be disappointed. While the Commission more or less admits that the current recruitment procedure is not efficient, and the current (post-2004) employment package is barely competitive vis-à-vis international and many national job markets, the Commission proposes nothing to reform EPSO and to revamp your career for instance via the valorisation of the experience and knowledge you have brought into the institution or the actual job you are doing. Also if you are a contract or temporary agent coming close to the end of your employment possibilities, having proven capacities to work for the Commission and hoping to become an established official, we have to disappoint you. This programme is not for you!

What is proposed then?

A perspective of becoming an AD official is proposed for in total 40 blue book trainees, contract agents FG IV, AD temporary agents and AD officials with not more than 3 years professional experience and being employed at the time of the call. No blue book trainees who have completed their internship, no contract agents in lower function groups and no AST officials will be eligible. A lengthy procedure over 2 years including a lot of training and involving high costs is proposed to allow DGs to recruit those closest to their hearts. While the candidates will have to undergo an interview with a selection panel, the first selection is made by the DGs and the final selection will largely be based on the evaluation by the DG. At the end of the project, the participants will get the possibility to participate in an internal competition and become an official. And once arrived there they will fulfil an important mission! According to DG HR they will break the silos that have been built up during long decades of rigid hierarchical structures and bad human resources management.

Will this programme offer anything interesting for established officials? The training to be offered to the participants would by all means be interesting to all since we could get the chance to develop skills and knowledge needed by the organisation, which according to DG HR we do not possess! Also those having faced difficulties in changing job could benefit from an experience in a different part of the organisation. But is it worth to anybody having made his/her way through an open competition and having been recruited from a reserve list to go again through another selection procedure for no real benefit for his/her career progress?

Interestingly, the programme was planned to start in March 2017; at the end, the participants would have had the possibility to participate in an internal competition. In other words: during 2 years the participants would have been trained and prepared by the Commission for the internal competition planned at the end of the term of the College. This means 40 well-prepared competitors in grades AD5 or equivalent to contend with for those of us who entered the Commission via the normal recruitment procedure in the recent past. Hopefully, this unfair competition will not happen since the whole process has been delayed by a whole year.

What is even worse in the whole process is that the Commission pretends that the programme is a “new approach for the Commission in the retention and development of talent among the internal pool of junior professionals”. What about e.g. the thousands of contract agents who have been employed in the Commission under a CA3b contract with a 6-year limit in lower function groups or for more than 3 years? Does their talent not need to be retained and developed? How come DG HR is able to bend the rules to recruit people via the ad-hoc Young Professional Programme and not able to do anything to propose a better situation to the many contract agents who have been demonstrating their skills in the Commission for several years?

Join us for our lunch event on 27th June at 12:30 in room CCAB-4D at Rue Froissart 36! We will discuss the Young Professional Programme and propose actions against this HR imposed initiative!

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