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Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Workplace

Career mobility in and out of the federal public service: 7 Interchange Canada facts

As interest in the “gig economy” continues to grow, more and more individuals are choosing short-term employment opportunities for career development. There is a widely held myth that the federal government lacks the flexibility, accessibility and willingness to enable this type of flexible career mobility for employees. However, whether you or your clients are employed in the public, private, non-profit, or any other sector, there is an opportunity to leverage Interchange Canada for a temporary career move.

Taking part in the “gig economy” is not limited to the start-ups and software developers of the world. Employees inside and outside of the Government of Canada have access to this powerful talent mobility tool that can help expose them to new insights, different ways of doing things, as well as knowledge and skills they may not have had before.

Interchange Canada is a cross-sectoral career mobility mechanism that facilitates temporary assignments in and out of the core public administration of the Government of Canada. It is a strategic organizational tool that aims to ensure transfer of knowledge and expertise, build understanding and improve networks between the core public administration and other sectors, and contribute to the professional development of participants.

Although thousands of Interchange Canada assignments have taken place across the globe in various sectors over the years, many people are still surprised when they learn that Interchange Canada exists. In no particular order, here are seven facts you may not have known about Interchange Canada:

1. Interchange Canada has been around for decades.

Interchange Canada was launched in 1971 to encourage, through the exchange of executive personnel, a closer relationship between the private and federal public sectors. Today, Interchange Canada is open to employees of all classifications and levels and contributes to several Government of Canada priorities, including the Beyond2020 vision of creating an equipped, inclusive and agile workforce.

2. Over 400 Interchange assignments were initiated in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

It is a common misconception that Interchange Canada is only for executives. However, did you know that in 2017-2018, 90% of assignments were at the non-executive level? While Interchange assignments typically last one year, there is no minimum assignment duration and the Directive on Interchange Canada allows for a maximum assignment duration of three years.

3. There is a suite of digital tools helping connect interested employees with potential assignment opportunities.

The official Interchange Canada website includes a portal allowing organizations inside and outside the core public administration to post available assignments. Users can sign up for Assignment Opportunity Alerts to be the first to know when a new assignment has been uploaded. In addition, the Interchange Canada resume bank includes a vast pool of talent from different sectors and regions, accessible by managers and HR professionals both inside and outside the core public administration. A wide variety of support is available to organizations and participants in setting up Interchange assignments, including through digital Government of Canada platforms.

4. Interchange assignments can take place anywhere in the world.

Interchange assignments have taken place in countries such as France, Australia, Korea and the United States, to name a few. According to a recent external comparative analysis, Interchange Canada is one of the only programs of its kind in the world.

5. Interchange Canada can be used to acquire specialized expertise and transfer knowledge across sectors.

With the emergence of fields such as disruptive technology, automation, artificial intelligence and robotics, various levels of government and industries can benefit from subject matter experts’ knowledge now more than ever. Interchange Canada is not a staffing process, nor does it require a reciprocal exchange to take place. Thus, a host organization can quickly access and engage specialists who possess highly sought-after technical knowledge.

6. Participants do not gain or lose financially by going on an Interchange assignment.

During their Interchange assignment, a participant remains subject to the terms and conditions of their substantive position in their home organization. Every Interchange Canada Letter of Agreement must contain a statement that the participant will return to their home organization following the end of their assignment.

7. Interchange Canada is frequently used as the enabling mechanism allowing employee mobility in a variety of different programs.

Canada’s Free Agents, Code for Canada (C4C) and the Privy Council Office Fellowships, among others, are examples of several programs that use Interchange Canada to enable the mobility of participants. Interchange Canada is a flexible talent mobility mechanism that can be used as the backbone for large-scale initiatives. This reputation has solidified the position of Interchange Canada as a leader of innovation and driver of creativity.

Whether you are working with a client who wants to try out a career in public service, or a public servant who wants to build their skills in industry, Interchange Canada assignments can provide career-changing opportunities. Home and host organizations benefit from new knowledge and expertise, while participants gain unforgettable experiences and in-demand skills.

For more information, employees in the core public administration can contact their departmental Interchange Canada liaison officer (there is an up-to-date list for both Executive and Non-Executive contacts). Employees from outside organizations can contact the Interchange Canada team at interchange-echanges@tbs-sct.gc.ca.


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Melissa Murray works at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Ottawa, Canada. She is responsible for the analysis and administration of people management policies and programs. Peter Wesolowski works at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Ottawa, Canada. He is responsible for the analysis and administration of people management policies and programs.
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Melissa Murray works at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Ottawa, Canada. She is responsible for the analysis and administration of people management policies and programs. Peter Wesolowski works at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Ottawa, Canada. He is responsible for the analysis and administration of people management policies and programs.
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