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Lateral entry: New institutes are prepping students for government jobs

Fellowships, consultancies and even senior positions are now open to graduates and executives.
By Lavina Mulchandani | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2019 04:18 PM IST

Not all government jobs require an entrance exam. Lateral entry allows qualified candidates — those with a relevant graduate or postgraduate degree, and / or experience in the field — to bypass the civil service exams and directly interview for consultant positions.

“Such candidates can apply for positions in government bodies such as NITI Aayog, the National Skills Development Council and Quality Council of India,” says Luis Miranda, member of the governing council at the Indian School of Public Policy. “If there is an opening for the position of a risk management consultant in these institutions, for instance, MBAs and chartered accountants are accepted. If there is a vacancy for the position of an urban planning consultant, your architecture degree could help you get a job.”

Right now, the job profiles available are a bit scattered, says Devashish Sharma, founding member and chief of strategic accounts and alliances at PeopleStrong, a human resource solutions firm. “Most of these jobs are for consultants, but there are also positions open for fellows and even joint secretaries in certain departments.”

In June last year, the central government invited lateral entry applications for 10 joint secretary positions from “individuals with expertise in the areas of revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, road transport and highways, new and renewable energy, civil aviation, and commerce”.

“This approach of lateral entry into the government has worked well in countries such as the US and UK,” says Sharma. “If implemented more comprehensively, it could help bring in fresh ideas and new approaches to governance.”

Corridors of power

Towards that end, the Indian School of Public Policy, a Delhi-based private institute, will launch its flagship programme in policy design and management in August. “The one-year Master’s equivalent course will help students learn about what the government is looking for in lateral entry candidates, and what such a job would entail. Students will learn leadership skills, administration and communication,” Miranda says.

Faculty will include senior academics, policy experts and former administrators. “The plan is to have students placed with government organisations, consulting firms, thinktanks and maybe even run for election at the end of the programme.”

Graduates can also apply directly for fellowship programmes such as the state government’s Chief Minister Fellowship Programme and the fellowship programme of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The central government also launched the India Smart Cities fellowship and the Delhi government announced an Urban Leadership Fellowship last year.

Before deciding to make the move, make sure it’s the right one for you. “These jobs are generally contractual, so you may not get the desired career growth, and you also will likely not get the type of job security that generally comes with a government position,” says Sharma. “Secondly, you should know that it’s very different from working in a corporate setup. There are processes in place and intricate protocols to follow. There is considerably less democracy and much stronger power structures in place.”

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