Career And Job Outlook In Public Policy Sector

Although it is relatively new in India, public policy courses are increasingly becoming popular. Earlier, it used to be only mid-career civil servants getting enrolled in public policy courses.

Susan belongs to a new class of students who a decade ago would have invited a puzzled look from many of their age group people in India. Public policy, for instance, as a stream, has been one of the most subscribed courses of many western universities for over 50 years including Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs among the top schools globally. 

In India, however, it is finding takers only now. Although it is relatively new in India, public policy courses are increasingly becoming popular. Earlier, it used to be only mid-career civil servants getting enrolled in public policy courses. Now, fresh graduates and professionals from diverse backgrounds pursue a master’s in public policy.

A public policy degree is a vital component when it comes to preparing future generations to tackle some of the complex public problems. Gone are the days when solutions to public problems were discussed and fixed only in the power corridors of the capital of the country and state capitals or only in meetings of Panchayats and Municipalities. Now governments are open to taking professional assistance from consultancy firms, non-governmental organizations, and individual experts too. Private and voluntary sector agencies often join hand with the government in many public affairs as well. 

These developments have opened the doors for trained public policy experts, social entrepreneurs, policy analysts and expert consultants to the government. A public problem may be as basic as garbage crisis in the neighborhood, potholes on the roads or severe water crisis in some of the states of the country. However, understanding complex public problems and finding solutions to problems like these is neither simple nor straightforward as experience shows us. Moreover, no single social-science or management subject directly deal with this. A number of subjects like political science and public administration address the public affairs in general but their central focus of these subjects has not been to find solutions to these public problems or examine how public institutions go about solving such problems. It is this gap which Public Policy as a subject of inquiry aims to fill. 

Modern schools of public administration and public policy offer a range of degree or diploma programs to prepare the participants for launching and sustaining a desirable career in the field. The schools also offer mid-career and executive education programs designed specifically for meeting the ongoing education needs of the working professional.  In India, public policy course is being offered by Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon and few other institutes.

A post-graduate degree or diploma in public policy provides students with a balanced and in-depth synthesis of social science, humanities, management, research methods and quantitative skills. Thus grooming the skills of the students and preparing them to solve the complex policy problems and public issues in all levels government, Nonprofits/NGOs, international organizations, consulting and education. Similar to business schools, we find many public policy programs providing a skills-based curriculum that integrates information technology, quantitative analysis, and management skills. 

Public policy programs offer their students an excellent platform to build a successful professional careers in the public sector, the nonprofit sector, and those parts of the private sector that supply consulting and other services to governments, such as private sector consultants like PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey and Deloitte and Government sector jobs, at entry level as well as experienced levels in the role of consultants and advisors. It also opens up a plethora of job opportunities to multilateral organizations like UNDP, UNICEF and development banks like Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank Group and many others. In addition, a public policy degree creates opportunities for international donor organizations like Ford Foundation, Oxfam, CARE as well as Corporate Social Initiatives. 

However, career opportunities are not just limited to the executive branch of the government, the nonprofit sector and private sector consultants which is looking out for public policy professionals. Challenging opportunities approach them in politics too. The fundamental change in the way politics is practiced and elections are fought worldwide has to lead to the emergence of a new career option that is Political consultancy. India is no exception to this. Both fighting elections and staying in power increasingly seek the assistance of professionals in policy matters as part of their long-term branding strategy to occupy a desirable space in the mind of their electorate.  Such branding strategies in politics invite the expertise of policy and governance people, not just MBAs and marketing gurus. 

The career and job outlook in Public Policy does not reach to its' limit here, a large number of welfare functions where the state used to be the sole player once are now being performed by a new breed of investors called Social Entrepreneurs. From creating educational and healthcare facilities, gainful employment for skilled and semi-skilled workers to providing the poor with affordable housing, a large number of privately-funded innovations are marking their presence in the social sector today. According to media reports as of 2015 more than 100 companies have invested a total of $ 1.6 billion in 220 for-profit social enterprise ventures in India. Some of the successful social enterprise ventures in the country include Dr. Devi Shetty's, Narayan Hridayala with a mission to make healthcare affordable to the masses living in third world countries and Gram Tarang Employability Training Services under the leadership of  Prof. Mukti Mishra aiming to be globally accredited human resource centre of excellence catalyzing sustainable livelihoods in the less developed markets across the globe.

A degree in public policy is an excellent option for those who believe in making a difference. Whether it is the local community or society at large, a public policy degree equips the students with necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to inform the next generation of impact-makers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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