Battle for brains: how can the public services compete in competitive recruitment markets?

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January 26, 2023

Governments around the world are facing what has been describes as a war for talent. A number of factors – high inflation, tight public sector budgets, a post-pandemic adjustment to flexible working and the fallout from the ‘great resignation’ – have combined to leave governments around the world struggling to recruit the people they need, with the squeeze particularly acute in specialist sectors like digital and procurement.

This webinar looked at how governments can make themselves attractive employers in such uncertain economic times. It will look at best practice from around the globe on how governments – and wider public sectors organisations – are working to ensure they are able to recruit the talent they need.

The webinar looked at:

  • The extent of the public sector recruitment challenges being faced by governments around the globe.
  • How governments are able to use flexible and remote working practices to broaden the base of people it can recruit from.
  • What incentives government should be looking to offer to entice skilled candidates to join?


Lauren Hunter, Director, Talent Policy and Platforms, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Canada

Lauren is the Director for Digital Talent Policy and Platforms at the Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada. She has a PhD in human rights from the University of British Columbia, where she taught antiracism and gender analysis at the Centre for Social Justice. She joined Government in 2008, and has worked extensively on Indigenous issues, strategic policy, innovation, and digital products. Working with her team, she launched the first innovation hub in the Government of Canada in 2014, and helped several other departments in establishing their own hubs and labs. Since 2017, Lauren has been leading platform experimentation and delivery related to digital talent solutions.

Jessica Palatka, Director and Chief Human Capital Officer, U.S. Department of Commerce, USA

Ms. Jessica S. Palatka is the Director of Human Resource Management and Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) and a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), responsible for providing leadership, developing policies, and directing programs in all aspects of human resources and human capital management and administration for all bureaus of the Department of Commerce (DOC), covering nearly 52,000 employees located in all 50 states, every U.S. territory, and more than 86 countries. Concurrently, Ms. Palatka is an Adjunct Associate Professor for the University of Maryland, Global Campus, where she teaches undergraduate courses in Human Resources and Business.

Ms. Palatka earned a Bachelor of Science cum laude in Management Science and Statistics, Decision and Information Technology in 2000 and a Master of Science in Human Resources Management in 2006 from the University of Maryland. Additionally, she earned a post graduate certificate from Cornell University in Human Resources in 2007. Ms. Palatka is a 2019 graduate of the Department of the Navy Bridging the Gap (BTG) Leadership Development Program, a 2018 graduate of the Navy Senior Leader Seminar (NSLS), a 2017 graduate of the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) and a 2012 graduate of Leadership Southern Maryland (LSM).

Previously, Ms. Palatka served as the Chief of the Human Resources Operations Center (HROC) for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Ms. Palatka also served as a Senior Leader (SL) while working as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) and Director, Human Resources Directorate (HRD) for the National Defense University (NDU). She also served as the Director of Human Capital Strategy for Sustainment for the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Additional roles Ms. Palatka held at NAVAIR include Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Division Head and Recruitment and Retention Program Analyst for the Total Force Strategy and Management Department (TFSMD). Prior to her time with NAVAIR, Ms. Palatka held the titles of Director of Recruiting, Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) Manager, Operations Manager, College Recruiting Coordinator, and Systems and Software Engineer.

Peck Kem LOW, Chief Human Resources Officer & Advisor (Workforce Development), Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore

As the Chief HR Officer and Advisor (Workforce Development) for the Public Service Division (PSD), Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore, Peck Kem is responsible for professionalising HR in the public sector of 16 Ministries and more than 50 Statutory Boards. She is also the twice-elected President of the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI).

Prior to her current appointment at the PSD, she was the Senior Director for HR & OD for a not for profit organisation, The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) based in Geneva, where she was responsible for human resource, organisation development, legal, internal audit and corporate administration for its 15 global offices.

Peck Kem has the unique combination of experience, from quality engineer to manufacturing manager to VP human resources in the private sector (Tandon, Western Digital, Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies & Avago Technologies), from a Divisional Director of National HR Division in the Singapore Ministry of Manpower in the public sector, to Senior Director ODHR in GAIN, to currently Chief HR Officer for Singapore Public Service Division. This combination has widened her perceptions in the private, public and NGO sectors, and enabled her to view leadership from both the Asian and European perspectives. Peck Kem was the first in Asia to be named CIPD Chartered Companion and was listed as a top HR influencer in Asia in 2021.

Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.