Almost a quarter of Nunavut's civil service jobs were vacant last year, according to federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser, who conducted an audit of the territorial government's human resources capacity.

Tabled on Thursday in the Nunavut legislature, Fraser's audit report found that 23 per cent of territorial public service positions were vacant at the end of March 2009. Government departments did not know the extent of their staff shortages, nor did they have concrete plans to address those shortages.

"We found that although departments know what skills are needed in each position, they do not have detailed information about the extent of the gaps in or shortage of skills in their workforce government-wide," Fraser's report states in part.

"For example, while they know that there is a lack of qualified people to fill financial management positions, they have not identified how many people and what qualifications, experience, and skill sets are needed to fill the vacant positions. Without this information, departments cannot develop plans for filling these positions."

Fraser also said departments have not fully assessed the underlying reasons why they cannot fill job vacancies, such as chronic housing shortages, salaries that are not competitive, a lack of sufficiently qualified Inuit, and the government's policy of locating jobs in communities other than the capital city of Iqaluit.

Inuit civil service

The audit also concluded that Nunavut would likely not reach its goal of having an 85 per cent Inuit civil service by 2020, notably in management and professional job categories.

Currently about half of Nunavut's government employees are Inuit. The report found that 85 per cent Inuit representation could be attained in the government's administrative and paraprofessional fields within the next 10 years.

"I think it's a recognition of something that's been known for a while and we know that we are going to have challenges, on that regard, to meet those targets," Human Resources Minister Daniel Shewchuk said Thursday.

"We are going to try our best to do that."

Fraser's report also found that it can take an average of 318 days to fill a vacant position in the territorial government, from the moment the job becomes vacant until a successful candidate gets the job offer.

As well, about half of the government's job competitions end with no one getting hired because none of the applicants had the proper qualifications.