Image promoting PSE's Public Sector Learning and Development Online Conference

2024 Public Sector Learning and Development

With new working developments, comes a requirement for workforces to reskill and continue their development. As the needs of communities continue to change and the ways that public sector organisations work develop, the sector must address how it can capitalise on a breadth of new talent, whilst also continuing to nurture its existing workforce.

Over a series of panel discussions, Public Sector Executive explored a number of learning and development topics. Host Sameena Ali-Khan was joined by sector leaders from organisations such as:

  • Central Digital and Data Office
  • National Audit Office
  • Newcastle City Council
  • Scottish Government
  • NHS Scotland
  • Local Government Information Unit

Learning solutions for the public sector – In partnership with Babington

The first discussion of the day saw Corinna Black Gillies (Head of Learning Development and Talent at the National Audit Office), Barbra Webber (Head of Digital Learning and Frameworks at the Central Digital and Data Office) and Ciaran Brennan (Director of Enterprise and Growth at Babington) discussing how local councils and central government bodies can solve challenges by enhancing staff developments.

With budgetary struggles and staffing issues plaguing the UK public sector, this panel discussion focused on how effective training initiatives can be, whilst also exploring how other learning and development strategies can improve and modernise public services.

Futureproofing through learning and development

We were joined in the second panel by Councillor Nick Kemp (Leader of Newcastle City Council), Joanne Cumper (London Borough of Lambeth), and Anthony Painter (Chartered Management Institute) to talk about the future. With the pressure that councils are under to deliver services for the here and now, it might sometimes be easy to neglect the skills that a workforce might need.

One area of working that consistently comes under the microscope is working from home. After the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been discovered that there are benefits of remote/distance working and learning. Through the second panel of the conference, this was discussed at length.

Tackling the skills gap

The third-panel discussion of the conference gave participants the opportunity to delve into one of the most important factors of the day: exploring how the skills gap can be tackled. Emma Scatterty (Digital Health and Specialist Lead at NHS Scotland), Alan Milbourne (Policy Manager for Digital Health and Care Workforce in the Scottish Government), Paul Starkey (Adult Learning Service Manager for North Northamptonshire Council), and Anna Mimms MBE (Head of Employment Skills and Adult Education at Derby City Council) came together to explore this.

This includes the ways that every single member of staff throughout an organisation re-trains and upskills to bridge any skills gaps that might form as services evolve.


With the fluctuating nature of skillset requirements in every industry, not just the public sector, educating the next generation of workers is always going to bring new opportunities. Apprenticeships have become a valuable method of developing future talent across sectors and have brought to light the importance of working as you learn, rather than following a more traditional education route.

During this panel discussion Matt Bungay (Head of Apprenticeships at City, University of London), Dr Helen Charlton (Director of Education for Apprenticeships at Northumbria University), Jonathan Mitchell (Deputy Director for Future Skills at IfATE), and Nicola Snooks (Deputy Head of Business Management – Adults Social Care at London) came together to discuss the role of apprenticeships in the future of the public sector workforce. Alongside the experts, the panel also featured first-hand accounts from public sector apprentices and key insights from hiring managers.

Talent and Resources

Whilst apprenticeships are an exciting new way of bringing talent into an organisation, nurturing that talent however is a different issue. This enables the right people being in the right place to make sure that operations within an organisation can become safer and more efficient.

This panel explored everything from people strategy and employee management to equality and diversity, with the views of Nyna Souri (Talent Consultant at the London Borough of Havering), Aisling Diamon (Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s Deputy Medical Director – Education and Workforce), Kathryn Rees (Director of Strategy for Stockport Council) being joined by the returning Joanne Cumper.

Skills and Training Councillors

For the final panel discussion of the online conference, the topic of conversation moved to how organisations can find solutions to the challenges that councillors face after being elected with insufficient training. As they will be making vital decisions surrounding public spending and services, these challenges can bring huge consequences on councils and communities.

One of the questions posed in this panel is whether or not HR/training departments within councils understand the specific knowledge that councillors require, whilst also exploring how better decision-making can be made. Participating in this discussion was Ian Kirke (Managing Director of Training for Success), Liz Green (Training and Facilitator in Local Government at the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames), Malcolm Powers (Trainer at Local Government Information Unit), and Dave Burn (Frontline Consulting’s Director).

To hear from all of the delegates that were part of the online conference, and gain vital sector knowledge regarding learning and development, as well as hearing from keynote speakers Rebecca Murphy (Senior Advisor Leadership at Local Government Association) and Mark Smyth (Area Commander for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service), watch on demand here.


PSE April/ May 2024

Alarming decline in UK costal water quality

Dive into our latest edition for April/May 2024!


More articles...

View all
Online Conference


2024 Online Conferences

In partnership with our community of public sector leaders responsible for procurement and strategy across local authorities and the wider public sector, we’ve devised a collaborative calendar of conferences and events for leaders of industry to listen, learn and collaborate through engaging and immersive conversation.

All our conferences are CPD accredited, which means you can gain points to advance your career by attending our online conferences. Also, the contents are available on demand so you can re-watch at your convenience.

Public Sector Executive Podcast

Ep. 53 Compassion and Co-operation - Dr Nik Johnson

For the 53rd episode of the Public Sector Executive Podcast, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, spoke to host Dan Benn about some of the most important issues facing his region, as well as what drives him as a leader.