Saturday, January 28, 2012

Memo to Bill English: perhaps you could start here

THE GOVERNMENT insists that it’s trimming the flab from the public service, yet I keep seeing advertisements for pseudo-jobs such as “Chief Advisor, Maori Development” for the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

It was a wordy, long-winded ad but after reading it I had little idea what the job actually entailed. This is par for the course with executive positions these days, in the private as well as the public sector. The ad was written in impenetrable HR-speak, with liberal use of vague phrases such as “focused strategies and policies” and “building connections throughout New Zealand’s science and innovation systems”.

Here’s a sample: “The Chief Maori Advisor [note the capital letters] will be the visible champion within the organisation to ensure that MSI gives priority to the Vision Matauranga policy, including through cross-government work in support of Maori economic development. The role will provide iwi with a primary point of contact and also support the CE and Senior Management [those capitals again] team by providing appropriate advice and cultural support for all significant engagements with Maori.”

It finished with a flourish, advising that the successful applicant would have a genuine opportunity [as opposed to a fake one?] “to make a difference to Maoridom by linking, influencing and driving economic development through research and development”.

I’m suspicious of flatulent language like this because it can mean anything and nothing. The description of the position advertised is so vague that I concluded it’s just another stab at feel-good bicultural tokenism. If a vacancy can’t be described in words that actually mean something, it’s probably not worth filling.

If Bill English is really determined to cut out wastage and feather-bedding in the public sector, perhaps he could start here.


John Spavin said...

The former Ministry of Research Science and technology once took a couple of columns down half a page of the Dom to advertise for a "knowledge champion". Reading down through the ad (I'm a masochist) it turns out that they actually had a vacancy for a librarian!

Kiwiwit said...

How dare you suggest cutting expenditure on anything with "Maori" in the name? I think you need a dose of the cultural awareness training that is becoming a compulsory part of employee induction in many Government departments.

Andrew said...

A good start perhaps?