GC Talent Reserve – Exceptional people working where they’re needed most.
GC Talent Reserve is a dedicated, single-window coordinated talent management tool for triaging digital and tech talent needs across the Government of Canada. It enables the flow of talent from areas of lower priority to areas of critical need, supported by data tracking and central coordination, offering departments a fast, efficient vehicle for sourcing qualified, available talent for a wide variety of needs and giving public servants a way to volunteer their skills where help is needed most. A central, multi-departmental team (as needed) can then use the GC Talent Reserve to assess, allocate and track talent for departments in need.
The site is a retrofit of Talent Cloud, an experimental staffing platform hosted under the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), created as a response to the impact of COVID-19. Once it became clear how the pandemic would affect government operations, OCIO quickly recognized that Talent Cloud could be repurposed and upgraded. The original design was modified by the Talent Cloud team to create a centralized place for government employees working in digital and tech positions to volunteer to respond to fill critical talent shortages.
On March 16 the team began repurposing and upgrading features on its platform in order to create a centralized talent sorting centre for the COVID-19 situation. GC Talent Reserve went live on March 31.
Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact
COVID-19 has put tremendous pressure on government to support citizens during this time of crisis, but this pressure is not evenly distributed across the system. GC Talent Reserve is a digital first approach to the problem of how to identify, assess and allocate digital and tech talent in an emergency response context, allowing the Government of Canada to continue to respond to the needs of the country.
There are significant advantages to a digital first approach in comparison to the alternative available process, which typically consist of leveraging professional networks and ad hoc emails and excel sheets held individually in departments.
Because the process is centralized, GC Talent Reserve provides real-time data on applicant availability in a rapidly evolving environment, with semi-automated regular check-ins with “ready-to-allocate” talent and a method for simultaneously removing an applicant’s name from all processes they have applied to if they have been allocated to a department or must withdraw for other reasons.
Using a volunteer-based approach also helps employees feel included in decisions that involve them in a high stress environment, and promotes a “solve this together” mentality. It also facilitates applicants declaring skills that their managers may be unaware of (e.g. previous work experience in health or emergency management).
The platform also demonstrates core values of the Government of Canada by using an approach that is digital, bilingual and accessible, respects privacy and policy, and offers data insights and accountability.
The project is being led by the Talent Cloud team through the Office of the Chief Information Officer at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. We are in discussions with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, who has the wider mandate in relation to employee skills and mobility, about whether there is interest in expanding the use of GC Talent Reserve beyond the digital and tech community.
In order to respond as quickly as possible to the situation, we repurposed our hiring platform (Talent Cloud) which was designed for external hiring for one that supports talent mobility within the government (GC Talent Reserve). We prioritized speed in the design choices we made, deploying the site as a minimum viable product. We continue to test and will add functionality and improve the user experience. Because we imagine the need for a tool like this for the digital and tech community regardless of the nature of the crisis, we have a longer term goal of making GC Talent Reserve a product that is used beyond the current crisis.
As we developed the platform, we’ve also heard that the Government of Canada is not unique in their need for this tool, so we’re also building an easy to deploy version that can be used by other levels of government, countries, and international bodies along with a guide to installing and using the platform.