Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Formalised mentoring programs in the public sector: a structured review of the literature

Keywords: mentoring, public sector, formal programs

Authors: Dr Lisa Ehrich (School of Learning & Professional Studies, Queensland University of Technology); Professor Brian Hansford (Queensland University of Technology)

Formalised mentoring programs are commonplace in public, private and community based organisations in Australia and overseas. These programs were introduced into organisations over three decades ago as a means of formalising learning to enhance the skills and knowledge of workers at different stages of their careers. Mentoring programs are often promoted for new staff as a way of inducting / socialising them into the organisation; existing and aspiring leaders as a means of developing their leadership potential and abilities; and for women and members of minority groups as an affirmative action strategy.

The particular focus of this paper lies with mentoring in the public sector. The public sector is said to represent authorities and agencies at various levels of government that serve the government in power. The paper aims to explore the nature, scope and outcomes of some of these formal programs by examining a sizeable number of empirical studies conducted across several countries. A structured review of the literature is used to reveal not only the positive and negative outcomes of mentoring for the mentor, mentee and the organisation but also the focus and purpose of the mentoring programs. The paper illuminates the phenomenon of mentoring in the public sector and identifies some key issues emerging from the analysis.

The paper will make a contribution to the field by analysing a sizeable body of empirical research on mentoring in the public sector and from that distil some key themes to provide a better understanding of this field. The intended audience for this paper are practitioners as well as researchers interested in mentoring as a workplace learning activity.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 3.30-4.00

Venue: Carrick Three

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).