Age profile of the Civil Service ‘a significant business risk’, report finds

Spending review says 28 per cent of Government workers are aged over 54

The Civil Service is facing a considerable risk to the delivery of services over the coming years due to the age profile of its staff, a new review published by the Department of Public Expenditure has found.

The review, released on Tuesday, says the Irish Civil Service strives to be representative of the population it serves. However it says the Civil Service is “older” than the general labour force.

The review says the proportion of Civil Service personnel over the age of 54 is 28 per cent at present compared with 17 per cent in the general workforce.

It says the proportion of under 35-year-olds is 16 per cent for the Civil Service and 34 per cent for the Irish labour force in general.


“Having such a large proportion of the Civil Service workforce over the age of 55 presents a significant business risk in the medium term. Most of the civil servants that are over the age of 55 are members of the pre-2004 pension schemes, under which they can retire at the age of 60. “

“Therefore, there is a growing number who will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years, which presents a considerable business risk to the delivery of services and business strategies over the next 5-10 years. However, retirement eligibility does not equate to expected retirements, and retirement eligibility alone should not form the basis of succession planning.”

The review also says “while it is generally agreed that skills are a critical aspect of workforce planning, there is currently no centralised skills data available on the workforce”.

It says the available data “suggests that in years following the lifting of the moratorium (on recruitment) in 2014, the proportion of generalists among the new joiners (to the Civil Service)rose to levels far exceeding those in the years preceding the introduction of the moratorium”.

“The data suggests that by 2019 the generalist proportion had risen to 80 per cent of new joiners, compared to 40 per cent in 2006. “

Separately another spending review published on Tuesday has found that the introduction of reforms in 2013 had “clearly improved the sustainability of Irish public service pensions”.

The review published by the Department of Public Expenditure says that by the end of 2019 there were 140,000 active members of what is known as the “single scheme”.

When this scheme was introduced for new entrants in 2013 it was projected that it would reduce long-term expenditure on public service pensions by 35 per cent , primarily through the introduction of later normal retirement ages, the career-average method of calculating benefits and the application of CPI indexation.

“Due to the age profile of single scheme members, scheme benefit pay outs are not expected to be a significant portion of overall public service pensions’ expenditure until the second half of this century and are anticipated remain below €100 million annually until after 2040 (approximately 3 per cent of current public service pension expenditure.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent