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How public sector organisations can help close the digital skills gap

In today’s online world, it’s increasingly important public sector organisations are able to keep up with the digital transformation curve.

And yet, the sector is struggling. In fact, just 7% of government leaders think their organisation has achieved its digital transformation objectives.

Clearly, this is a problem.

Organisations need to take urgent steps to meet citizen demands. But doing so is where the real challenge lies. The ongoing talent crisis in the UK means there simply aren't enough qualified individuals to support the work that is required – an issue that is only exacerbated as digital transformation accelerates.

So, how do we resolve this?


The barriers to public sector progress

A major barrier to progress is the massive digital skills shortage in the public sector, which can be mainly attributed to the ‘Great Resignation’. A new Virgin Media O2 Business report on tech talent found that one of the top reasons for the skills shortage is that people have left and there is no one to replace them (32%).

To make matters worse, public sector organisations often struggle to compete in the war for talent. The allure of compensation, flexibility and rapid career advancement make the private sector a more tempting value proposition – creating a growing gap between the sectors.

This digital divide is evident in recent statistics: only 4% of civil servants are in digital roles, while the average throughout private sector organisations is 10%. The disparity is alarming, and a clear sign that action needs to be taken.

So, with all these challenges to consider, how can the public sector take steps to close the gap?


Joining forces to develop skills

There is in fact a silver lining to this disparity – the public sector can look to bridge the skills gap by partnering with tech companies that mostly deliver digital solutions to the private sector. This way, they can form an ecosystem of proven suppliers.

It’s this approach that digital workflow solution providers like ServiceNow are looking to implement, by working together with the public sector to provide more opportunities to nurture prospective talent. Whether they’re looking to find a new role or improve their abilities, joint programmes such as Skills Bootcamps part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee offer extremely valuable learning experiences.

Participants can gain access to key industry training and the digital knowledge they need to progress in their current career path, or to embark on a new one. An integral part of this process is then providing routes into public sector organisations that are seeking to close the talent gap. 

The key takeaway is that Skills Bootcamps offer skills for life. It’s about ensuring there are ongoing career opportunities to help learners continually expand their skill set, and in turn satisfies demands for digital skills across the public sector.    


Redefining tech talent

Being a prevalent problem, the digital skills gap was discussed in detail at the recent ServiceNow World Forum in London. One of the opportunities covered in these discussions was RiseUp with ServiceNow – a programme that looks to tackle the current skills shortage with a fresh approach. The aim is to drive a new economy of in-demand, job-ready talent, yet at the same time, change the conversation around skills – for everyone’s benefit.

The difference here is redefining career paths. ServiceNow’s initiative focuses on the opportunity gap rather than the skills gap, to open new pathways into the tech space. Candidates can learn core skills such as critical thinking, interpersonal communication and creativity, to better prepare them for technical roles and broaden the scope for digital talent.

Ultimately, candidates gain industry contacts and develop practical skills that open them up to opportunities they may not have otherwise known existed — many of which could lie within the skill demands of the public sector.


Closing the digital skills gap

The emergence of talent-nurturing programmes and initiatives will be key for public sector organisations as they look to close the digital skills gap. It’s making the most of these opportunities that will enable them to find the right people with the right skills, and keep up with the digital transformation curve – helping them deliver excellent, digitally-driven public services in turn.

To find out more about how ServiceNow is helping nurture digital skills to support public sector organisations, you can register your interest and get involved as an employer here.

PSE December/January 2024

PSE December/January 2024

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Public Sector Executive Podcast

Ep 48. Achieving Net Zero - Cllr Abdul Jabbar - Oldham Council

As central government aims for the UK to be net zero by 2050, councils around the country make plans for how to reduce emissions. This episode’s guest, Oldham’s Councillor Abdul Jabbar outlines the importance of coming together to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, the benefits of achieving net zero, and how Oldham Council are working to do just that.

Touching on the role that the public sector can play in sustainability, Cllr Jabbar said:

“I think it’s really important that the public sector gives true leadership in this space. I think something like one third of the carbon emissions in the country come from the public sector, so obviously we’re a big polluter in terms of the emissions.”

Councillor Jabbar also spoke about challenges being faced by organisations:

“I think the biggest one has been finance. Clearly the local government sector in particular has had its grants cut from central government by a huge amount and that’s had a very big impact in terms of our plans to take forward projects in relation to climate change, so that’s a major issue.”

To hear what Cllr Jabbar has to say about the mission to achieve net zero carbon emissions, listen to the latest episode of the Public Sector Executive Podcast.

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