From social media to mobile banking and online shopping, citizens live their lives more and more through digital interactions.
Increasingly, citizens expect all their interactions to be achievable online. Interactions with government are no exception. Without an online option, services are increasingly seen as inaccessible and inconvenient. Citizens may be reluctant to use the service at all, and can become dissatisfied with the service provider. Non-digital interactions also create unnecessary work for the organization.
Unfortunately, unprecedented demand from both public and private sectors has caused an acute shortage of digital skills. Businesses and service providers of every type, be they private or public, are seeking the same scarce resources, and it can be especially difficult for public sector organizations to recruit and retain them. Digital skills command premium salaries, and employees who have them want clear and rewarding career paths in their digital fields.
In addition, today’s talent have distinctive expectations about the workplace: they want to collaborate, innovate, be entrepreneurial, and so on. If these expectations about the working culture and environment are not met, the brightest will go elsewhere.
To avoid the public sector falling behind even further in the skills stakes, the government needs to develop a sustainable plan to attract and retain digitally skilled employees. The plan should have the following four core elements:
1. Articulate which digital skills the government needs to develop and retain
2. Directly address public sector pay and incentives
3. Proactively develop, reward, and nurture talent
4. Clarify the role of suppliers
Government agencies now face the challenge of adapting their ways of working to deliver services in the manner and at the speed that digitally aware citizens expect. This depends crucially on having the right skills.
Current changes in the workplace make the skills challenge easier in some respects. Traditional staff recruitment is no longer the only way to access the right skills at the right time. Additional options, which can all help to close the digital skills gap, include the following:
· Developing closer ties with digital industries
· Bilateral secondment arrangements with third parties from digital organizations
· Injecting private sector skills into government on a short-term basis to share experience with government personnel
· Creating a stimulating and dynamic work environment
· Creating development centres jointly with private sector organizations
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