EPSO announced today that the future structure of the AD5 generalists’ competition is currently being examined, and therefore it will not be releasing a Graduate Administrators AD5 competition in 2021.
This announcement doesn't come as a total surprise considering info circulating which suggests that the EPSO selection process is likely to undergo a shake-up.
With the COVID pandemic causing massive exam backlogs for multiple EPSO competitions, and increasing pressure for the EPSO selection processes to become more streamlined and meet the recruitment needs of the EU institutions better: what are some of the possible changes can we anticipate?
- Looking at the types of competitions recently released by EPSO an observable trend emerges. Instead of the usual annual AST or AD generalist competitions, EPSO seems to be moving towards more specialised or targeted competitions, that focus on key areas of "expertise". This is by no means coincidental as EPSO has been increasingly criticised for not meeting the EU institutions’ current recruitment needs - which seeks to recruit more specialised staff who can become operational immediately. As such, generalist competitions as we know them could very well be a thing of the past.
- The extensive delays experienced in the progress of multiple EPSO competitions (due to different lockdown practices being introduced in various countries at differing time intervals), has acutely highlighted the need for more practical solutions in the form of remote testing for all stages of the selection process. EPSO has suggested the likelihood of implementing remote computer-based testing - thereby removing the need for candidates to travel to physical testing centers to complete their exams. This would certainly eliminate the problems originating from test center closures or limited seating capacity.
- A 'general screening phase' to shorten the timeline of competitions may be introduced. Meaning a preliminary test would need to be completed independent of any competition - the results of which would remain valid for a set period of time. Passing this test would then qualify you to register for EPSO competitions of a specific grade. This not only means more streamlined selection processes but also more flexibility for candidates in terms of when and how frequently they will need to complete such a pre-selection exam.
- A list of upcoming competitions for the whole year ahead may be published in advance allowing for better planning overall. This would certainly eliminate the current guessing game of "will EPSO release an 'XYZ' competition this year or not?", and allow candidates to formulate a solid EU career plan.
- The pandemic forced EPSO to move its Assessment Centre online, but it is likely that EPSO may not revert back to the mandatory 'physical' Assessment Centre in Brussels once the crisis has passed. Remote Assessment Centres (or some form of "hybrid" version) that follows a more simplified format could become the new norm. Going forward, it has been suggested that certain tests may even be recorded and then reviewed by the Selection Board at a later time that works better with their availability - thereby further streamlining and speeding up the testing period.
What's certain - is that that change is inevitable.
There is a pressing need for EPSO to better adapt its selection methods to be able to adequately meet the needs of the EU institution's fast-changing recruitment environment, and to curtail selection processes being excessively delayed by external forces (which has clearly been the case during the pandemic).
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