02/19/2016 09:42 EST | Updated 02/19/2017 05:12 EST

We Are Looking Forward, To Build A Better Public Service


The World Economic Forum recently brought together young leaders from around the world under its Global Shapers Community program to talk about the participation of millennials in government.

I had the honour of being part of that discussion, and it reaffirmed how important it is for Canada to attract the best of this next generation to public service.

This generation is among the most talented, educated and globally connected ever. While some of the experiences and expectations of these young people are unique to their cohort, they have much in common with Canadian workers of all ages and backgrounds: they are looking for a way to make a difference -- be it at the local, national, or global level.

While young people can make a difference in the world through an NGO or in the private sector, the same smart, talented, idealistic young person can change the world through public service, given the right tools.

However, instead of bringing in more young Canadians to help address the challenges of an aging workforce, the average age of a new recruit has continued to creep up.

We must do a better job of ensuring that young indigenous Canadians play a serious role in shaping the future of our country.

The federal public service must innovate to attract more young people. We need less rigid hierarchies, fewer layers of bureaucracy, more open and transparent decision making, a culture of intelligent risk taking, more opportunity for continuous learning, and greater mobility in and out of government.

We are making progress in creating the conditions that will foster innovation and calibrated risk and we will continue to encourage our employees to experiment and help build a corporate culture that is markedly different from any that has gone on before -- one that is not constrained by how things were done in the past, but rather meets the needs and expectations of our talented youth today and for the future. We must also continue to encourage and promote diversity so that all Canadians see themselves in their government.

Canada's Indigenous Peoples -- our youngest and fastest growing demographics -- present an enormous potential. If they are empowered to enter the public service with the skills they need to compete and succeed, better policy and more effective leadership will result. We must do a better job of ensuring that young indigenous Canadians play a serious role in shaping the future of our country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's gender-equal and diverse Cabinet shows a real commitment to diversity. No one better represents this principle than our Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, who came to Canada as an Afghani refugee. At thirty years of age, she provides an invaluable perspective to Cabinet deliberations. Furthermore, our prime minister personally taking on ministerial responsibilities for Youth demonstrates his personal attachment to the issue and forward-looking approach. His leadership has not gone unnoticed, reaching the corner offices of the private sector. I personally share this commitment to diversity and youth and I will continue to work with our public service to effect real and lasting change in our workplaces.

While we continue to transform and improve how we work, we must also reinforce the importance of public service. At the World Economic Forum a few years ago, a young person asked Bill Gates for career advice. Mr. Gates answered that he used to encourage people to pursue business or science. However, since his involvement in the developing world through his foundation, he now advises them to get into government if they wish to make the biggest difference in building a better world.

Public service offers numerous immensely rewarding avenues for those wanting to make a difference in their fellow citizens' lives. Government scientists and aid workers literally save lives. Armed forces' members defuse military crises, and trade officials create better jobs. Nowhere else can you have such a dynamic and interesting career, whether you aspire to be a national park warden or a coast guard captain, an economist or an accountant, a nurse or a social worker.

For many of us, public service is how we make a profound difference, touching millions of lives, finding purpose and fulfillment. I look forward to working with more public servants of this generation to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. We need them to build a better public service, a better Canada, and a better world.

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Trudeau Attends World Economic Forum