Building skills and capability in Wales
To really transform the way public services are delivered in Wales we need to ensure the Welsh public sector has the skills, capability and confidence to deliver digital services that meet the needs and expectations of the people of Wales.
Building skills and capability is a key part of our work at CDPS and we need to know what is needed and why.
Understanding training needs
As part of the discovery we conducted in 2019 we found that there was no single, definitive understanding of what ‘digital’ means and that not all leaders have the knowledge and skills to implement a digital strategy.
Surveys are great for telling us what is happening, but very rarely do they tell us why as people and situations are often more complex. We commissioned Gnos-tec to conduct discovery research to dig deeper into understanding the problem, identify what skills and capabilities are needed across various sectors in Wales and what the role of the Centre could be in supporting organisations.
Who we spoke to
We spoke to people in a broad range of roles from leadership to frontline workers. They worked in central Welsh government, local government in services such as education, the wider public sector arm’s length bodies, third sector, charities and independent organisations.
What we found
The findings from this work build on what we learnt from our work back in 2019 and have also been reflected in some of the research from our digital squad discovery.
- There was a level of fear in the transition to digital which is acting as a barrier to cultural change. Without highly-skilled, confident people, the transformation will not be successful.
- Most organisations don’t have an active strategy in place for building skills and capability. One organisation’s strategy was stopped due to budget cuts because they were unable to provide a roadmap of improvements.
- A lack of understanding of digital methodologies and the benefits they can bring to service delivery and outcomes for people in Wales is blocking progress.
- The approach to identifying and addressing training needs is considered paternalistic and ineffective. This results in organisations deciding who needs what training without evaluating need. For example, some organisations determine training needs using a ‘self-assessment’ questionnaire which is subjective. The reliance on subjective approaches risks over or understating competency levels and staff not getting the training they need. For others, digital skills and competency training simply never makes it onto the agenda when it comes to training as there are always other higher priorities.
- Participants were clear that whilst training needs to be aligned to the overall vision for Wales it needs to be contextual to what they are doing on the ground.
- People designing public services must be skilled and confident enough to adapt to ever-changing environments. This requires ongoing training and support, to help them move from novice to experts, where they become the people training others.
What’s the role of CDPS?
Our aim is to provide practical advice and hands on support that reaches public sector organisations across Wales. We know from our discovery work that there’s a need for this support and wider sharing of good practice. This could include:
- Guidance and tools
- Help to write and implement strategies
- Helping organisations keep inclusion at the heart of service design
- Mentoring and coaching
- How to get buy-in and change culture
- Providing training and learning opportunities
- Advice on sourcing the right training
- Help to create opportunities for young people
- Ideas for exploiting digital ways of working
How we’re going to do it
We’re now assessing our findings and looking at existing research carried out in this area to decide on options and priorities. For Wales to realise the vision set within its Digital Strategy, people need to be able to turn the strategy into action and we need to support them. Throughout this work we’ll be engaging with the different sectors to make sure our plans work for them.
We’ve already kicked off our leadership training, that’s now being rolled out across local authorities in Wales and Welsh government teams such as Natural Resources Wales.
We also plan to run one of our Knowledge Sharing Series webinars on building skills and capabilities in the near future so keep an eye out for more details and we hope you’ll get involved in the conversation.