Become Public Policy Expert Without Cracking Civil Services or Other Govt Exams

Public policy is not restricted to any one subject or discipline of study. Understanding of policy is an orientation that can be cultivated through many years of professional experience. With many educational institutions now offering post-graduate public policy programs, we have also enabled early career options for young aspirants. These programs are designed and delivered to inculcate policy orientation and practice skills to graduates of any discipline, like technology, commerce, economics, or law. The employers now easily find young and ready resources to hire for their public policy divisions, which in companies are usually named as – Global Policy and Regulations; Public Services and Policy; or Government and Public Affairs.

Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), IIM Bangalore, Jindal Global University, Kautilya School, NLSUI, India School of Public Policy are some such colleges offering courses in public policy.

Mid-career shifts have become quite common. For a professional with 15-20 years of experience, who might want to change career midway, acquiring some certification in public policy is an excellent pivot to venture into the field of social development. From Oxford’s public policy course to Harvard’s public leadership – many such courses are available in digital space.

Skills you need

Persons looking to make a career in public policy must have a solid skill as a foundation, and a strong commitment to work in the policy domain. The prospects for such roles, and their profile, shall only grow.

Businesses require policy-oriented young professionals to not only identify potential areas of policies and regulations but also to routinely provide policy-based inputs for business strategy and stakeholders. This need has emerged across different sectors of business, be it the traditional sectors of real estate and retail, or the emerging sectors of telecom and e-commerce.

Management and business consultants, including those that primarily focus on accounting, audits, and risks, are now increasingly dedicating efforts to consult with the public sector and the government. Working with the government requires long-term efforts with an adaptive mindset. Consulting companies actively lookout for people who have analytical skills, but with policy understanding and insights. The public projects and procurements are usually of high stakes and also involve leading Indian and global players, thereby providing excellent professional exposure.

Job opportunities in non-govt sectors

Irrespective of which sector or at what scale, businesses need to be equipped to proactively engage with the applicable framework of public policy. The Indian IT industry is a good example of a sector that responded well to the initial policy incentives and has then grown at a rapid pace to make a significant mark at the global level. This would not have been possible with only technology and business understanding. The leading IT companies also dedicate personnel to observe and review the evolving policies. The presence of industry-level associations such as NASSCOM, helps to further consolidate and strengthen such policy-based efforts by firms.

Policy think tanks and industry associations have grown not only in numbers but also in their influence. This is an indicator of the maturity of the economy, wherein issues of development are deliberated with accurate facts, and due representation to all perspectives. These efforts require not just analytical and technological skills, but also a workforce with exposure to policy and its dynamics.

— Written by professor Anil B Suraj, Faculty, Public Policy area and Chairperson, Post Graduate Programme in Public Policy and Management at IIM Bangalore. 

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