Solve ageing staff crisis in the public sector

It is shocking to learn that all the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) employees are over 30 yet the minimum recruitment age is 18 years. This unique situation poses a grave threat to succession and continuity in the key institution with a possible loss of the vital institutional memory when the older workers exit heralding a major crisis.

Some 61.8 per cent of all the NSSF employees are 50 and above. The failure to recruit more young workers presents a succession nightmare. Data show 675 employees of its 1,093 staff are 50 and above with 19 over the retirement age of 60. The 30-39 bracket has 111, or 10.2 per cent, of the staff.

What is emerging from this is that the NSSF has an ageing workforce. This calls for an urgent succession planning and replacement of those who have attained the retirement age. Sadly, this is not unique to the NSSF. It is also the case in many other government organisations. This is unacceptable in a country where the majority of young well-educated and qualified people, especially in the globally relevant digital technology, are looking for jobs they cannot find.

In 2017, the Public Service Commission (PSC) developed a succession planning management strategy. It was meant to address the challenges of an ageing workforce, skills flight and brain drain, especially in the professional and technical areas.

It is not clear whether this was tried out and failed or it was, perhaps, left to gather dust on the shelves in the NSSF and others now facing this staffing quagmire. Ministries, departments, state corporations and agencies must activate their succession plans to avoid being caught flat-footed when the older workers finally leave employment.

The employees should be spread across the various age groups. Besides easing succession, that also helps to bring diverse ideas and creativity into the workplace. The younger people tend to have greater technical skills and knowledge of modern technologies. Digitalisation and innovation, skills the youth are renowned for, are vital keys to success.