Civil servants are more 'flexible'

#1
Just read this article on the BBC site. It was all going well until I spotted this wonderful quote:

The MoD's senior civil servant, permanent secretary Ursula Brennan, told the MPs the discrepancy was partly because civil servants were more "flexible" while the armed forces tended to have "specific trades".

BBC News - MPs brand compulsory armed forces job cuts 'grotesque'

I rather think this woman has experienced somewhat different civil servants to the ones that I have had. what do others think?
 
#2
I think the Defence Select committee needs to pull it's head out of it's arse.

And yes, CS are more flexible than Armed Forces in the specific context of the quote she was talking about. This, of course, will be ignored in the revving up of the Outrage Bus.
 
#3
I'm amazed at just how badly wrong the media have got this issue; and at how the august Select Committee can have also failed to understand the wider context. Thousands of MoD CS have applied for redundancy as part of VERS - we don't need to 'sack' any of them. Nevertheless, the subject presents an opportunity to be utterly 'outraged' on behalf of our brave boys fighting thousands of miles from home etc etc government bastards etc etc....
 
#4
Been done before, unfortunately I can't easily search on my phone.

In terms of redundancy they are more flexible. Most are doing generic admin work so you can move them to any area or even to differing departments whilst moving a soldier between trades or even, horror, service doesn't easily work
 
#5
I think the definition of flexible to which Medusa Brennan refers is something called the redeployment pool. This is something akin to paid leave (could be wrong) where Civil Servants are placed when made "redundant" from their present role, paid as normal and await another position at their respective grade. There are obviously certain obligations (applying for roles being one) you have to meet but I am not sure of them all.
 
#6
...................In terms of redundancy they are more flexible. Most are doing generic admin work so you can move them to any area or even to differing departments whilst moving a soldier between trades or even, horror, service doesn't easily work
IIRC it was once (still could be?) that civil servants would move "desks" every 3 years or so as part of career progression.
 
#7
I think the definition of flexible to which Medusa Brennan refers is something called the redeployment pool. This is something akin to paid leave (could be wrong) where Civil Servants are placed when made "redundant" from their present role, paid as normal and await another position at their respective grade. There are obviously certain obligations (applying for roles being one) you have to meet but I am not sure of them all.
I think you are completely wrong.
 
#8
No Fablon's right. Every CS I've met who has come from the redeployment pool are the waifs and strays their last department got rid of. The decent ones go out and find a new post for themselves before they leave the last one.
 
#9
Didn't the Job Evaluation Exercise of 1969 find just the opposite ?

IE That the most flexible were X trade techs ? Able to quickly adapt to CS admin roles up to and including SEO ?

Or is it a case of not many people got to know that after the SEOs saw the report ?
 
#10
Didn't the Job Evaluation Exercise of 1969 find just the opposite ?

IE That the most flexible were X trade techs ? Able to quickly adapt to CS admin roles up to and including SEO ?

Or is it a case of not many people got to know that after the SEOs saw the report ?
1969? well before my time :) and I would sugest that of all people in the frame for redundancy

Why would you want to redeploy military into CS posts to avoid redundancy when the're being cut even more than the Mil? and why would they want to transfer when the pays so much worse?

What the select committe thinks we should do is move skilled tradesmen into a different trade, eg make a REME sgt into an Int sgt. Meaning they'd need to do all the trade courses that make an Int Sgt an Int Sgt, still lack the network of contacts in the branch that make the job easier and then block the promotion prospects of the juniors
 
#11
No Fablon's right. Every CS I've met who has come from the redeployment pool are the waifs and strays their last department got rid of. The decent ones go out and find a new post for themselves before they leave the last one.
or sit in there going through the motions until they get redundancy.
 
#12
Oh I love non stories in the media, particularly when dealt with by people who don’t really understand what they were saying. This is a classic case of PUS not being particularly clear, and then being selectively misquoted to suit the ends of the media who love a good ‘evil idiot civil servant’ story.

What the PUS was trying to say, but just not very eloquently, is that there has been no need to impose mandatory job losses yet on the MOD CS because they have been overwhelmed by applicants wanting to leave (15000 last year for barely 5000 places). I still expect to see further compulsory redundancies as the MOD has to shrink to at least 53000 and possibly 44000 in the next 5 years.

To give some context for the MOD cuts, at present the MOD CS is losing more staff by 2015 than all of the armed forces combined are expected to lose by 2020 – 1 in 3 of us are losing our jobs.

When she said flexible, I suspect she meant that it is easier to move CS to posts around the country in a general manpower plot. We did this a while ago, but essentially the CS operates as a vast mixyblob of staff, broken down purely by grade – subject to a slightly odd job vacancy procedure, anyone can apply for any advertised job in their grade. So, you could theoretically move London – Scotland – Devonport doing 3 very different jobs. This is unlikely, but what it means is that as most CS jobs tend to be quite similar, its easier to cross appoint a manager of paperclips at RAF little Snoring to become manager of paperclips and photocopiers at an Army barracks in Scotland.

The difference between this and the forces is that the forces branch structures are much smaller, and except at entry level require much more complex technical training. So, while you could theoretically take an infantry sgt, tell him he’s being made redundant, but then tell him he can apply to retrain as a REME Sgt, I’d suggest it would take a long time for him to retrain to the professional skills required to do the job properly.

This is what Ursula was trying to get at – Armed Forces personnel are highly trained in very technical skills. They operate in small branches with manpower worked out to offer a career structure to people coming through the system. While it is feasible for them to retrain, it would take a long time to do so, and would cost a lot of money, and lead to a black hole of manpower emerging as experienced staff went back to near basic training to learn a new job. The CS by contrast is mainly technically unskilled office work, which requires staffing skills, but rarely technical knowledge. As such it is easier to move CS around the country to new locations to try new jobs because it won’t take 2-3 years to retrain them to do this.

Longer blog piece on this later, but it’s another example of people chosing not to understand the message they’ve been told.
 
#14
They had the Chairman of the Select Ctte (Arbuthnott ?) on Radio 4 this morning and he didn't cover himself in glory. That said, I would be interested in whether the CS are receiving better terms under redundancy (not a dig at CS, rather good on them/their union for getting it). To get 25K CS to volunteer for redundancy either doesn't say a great deal about the CS or perhaps does say they are eminently employable outside? Equally what plans they have put in place if 25K don't volunteer?
 
#15
Oh I love non stories in the media, particularly when dealt with by people who don’t really understand what they were saying. This is a classic case of PUS not being particularly clear, and then being selectively misquoted to suit the ends of the media who love a good ‘evil idiot civil servant’ story.

What the PUS was trying to say, but just not very eloquently, is that there has been no need to impose mandatory job losses yet on the MOD CS because they have been overwhelmed by applicants wanting to leave (15000 last year for barely 5000 places). I still expect to see further compulsory redundancies as the MOD has to shrink to at least 53000 and possibly 44000 in the next 5 years.

To give some context for the MOD cuts, at present the MOD CS is losing more staff by 2015 than all of the armed forces combined are expected to lose by 2020 – 1 in 3 of us are losing our jobs.

When she said flexible, I suspect she meant that it is easier to move CS to posts around the country in a general manpower plot. We did this a while ago, but essentially the CS operates as a vast mixyblob of staff, broken down purely by grade – subject to a slightly odd job vacancy procedure, anyone can apply for any advertised job in their grade. So, you could theoretically move London – Scotland – Devonport doing 3 very different jobs. This is unlikely, but what it means is that as most CS jobs tend to be quite similar, its easier to cross appoint a manager of paperclips at RAF little Snoring to become manager of paperclips and photocopiers at an Army barracks in Scotland.

The difference between this and the forces is that the forces branch structures are much smaller, and except at entry level require much more complex technical training. So, while you could theoretically take an infantry sgt, tell him he’s being made redundant, but then tell him he can apply to retrain as a REME Sgt, I’d suggest it would take a long time for him to retrain to the professional skills required to do the job properly.

This is what Ursula was trying to get at – Armed Forces personnel are highly trained in very technical skills. They operate in small branches with manpower worked out to offer a career structure to people coming through the system. While it is feasible for them to retrain, it would take a long time to do so, and would cost a lot of money, and lead to a black hole of manpower emerging as experienced staff went back to near basic training to learn a new job. The CS by contrast is mainly technically unskilled office work, which requires staffing skills, but rarely technical knowledge. As such it is easier to move CS around the country to new locations to try new jobs because it won’t take 2-3 years to retrain them to do this.

Longer blog piece on this later, but it’s another example of people chosing not to understand the message they’ve been told.

I am sure that Ursula will be suitably grateful and indebted to Jim ( a lowly Executive Officer in Glasgow? ) for trying to explain what she really meant to say?
 
#16
Just read this article on the BBC site. It was all going well until I spotted this wonderful quote:

The MoD's senior civil servant, permanent secretary Ursula Brennan, told the MPs the discrepancy was partly because civil servants were more "flexible" while the armed forces tended to have "specific trades".

BBC News - MPs brand compulsory armed forces job cuts 'grotesque'

I rather think this woman has experienced somewhat different civil servants to the ones that I have had. what do others think?


Well yes, we are more flexible.

I have an OND and a Degree and have switched trades twice from fixing things in the field to something completely different behind a desk using said Degree gained as a CS. If I'm moved again later this year as seems highly likely, I'll very possible I'll be doing something different again.
Meanwhile, a 22 year Chief in the office next door is chasing around trying to get some civvie qualifications as he's going outside shortly as his trade has all but expired and no extensions to be found.

Now I'm sure the MP's meant well when they wibbled on about retraining service personnel in the trades that are in a shortage, but that idea oddly enough did occur to the powers that be. But saying to Private Jones who's mastered in his glorious career as a Sun 'hero' the sum of bugger all and is routinely on defaulters 'You're off to be an EOD wallah young man' is not really an option.

And while we're at it.

Would you care to compare who much I will get if I'm handed a brown envelope vs someone in the RN/Army/RAF?
 

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#17
We need a dis-like button.
 

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#18
Westpoint, you are either the Master of irony or very stupid. I can't decide.
 

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#19
Which if you like my last post will result in an Irony Overload and break this site.
 
#20
If its any help on the redundancy payout question- as a mid management level CS, if I took voluntary or compulsory redundancy, I would get the same payout of approximately £28K.

That sounds a lot until you look on the armed forces redundancy calculator and realise that my two military peers at the same level would be taking home a lump sum north of £75K for doing exactly the same job as me...
 

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