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APM: In conversation with Justine Greening

The civil service must see project management and delivery in the same light as policy development if social mobility is to be achieved, according to former Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities The Rt Hon Justine Greening.

Speaking with APM’s Chief Executive, Prof Adam Boddison about social mobility and project success, Ms Greening said:

“During my time in government, I felt that often the civil service put a huge store on policy development, but actually delivery and project management was not seen quite in the same light, and I think it needs to be if we're going to deliver social mobility.”

The full discussion took place for the latest episode of The APM Podcast. In this latest episode, the conversation explored the definition of social mobility, the status of apprenticeships and where project management fits into the levelling up agenda.

Ms Greening served as an MP from 2005 to 2019. During her time in politics, she held positions including Minister for Women and Equalities, Secretary of State for Education and Secretary of State for International Development. She is also co-founder of The Social Mobility Pledge.

During the conversation, she claimed that politicians and civil servants may not necessarily have sufficient project experience to deliver levelling up policies and called on decision-makers to appoint people with the relevant project skills to delivery roles.

She said:

“Our democratic system works by having people elected…you can end up with a teacher or an accountant running a department. I think there's a bit of a gap there, definitely for politicians on the nuts and bolts of their own skill set in order to be successful.

“It really needs to shift to be much more on who's great at delivering projects on the ground successfully, because there's no point having the best policy in the world if you can't deliver it.

“What's coming out of all the work I've been doing – both whilst I was at the Department for Education and since, more overtly, working with businesses on driving levelling up – is that fundamentally, literally managing that project is probably one of the biggest challenges because it's complex, and so actually, in many respects, delivering it is all about project management.”

On the importance of social mobility, she said:

“There's never probably going to be perfect equality of opportunity. Everyone will have a different view about what that really looks like in practise, but I think you can get a lot further towards improving the education system.

“Creating different routes into opportunities, for example technical education and apprenticeships. I just think there's actually quite a lot we can get on with relatively quickly and easily, that will probably make quite a big difference over the longer term.”

The discussion also highlighted the significance of project management expertise when it comes to delivering the levelling up agenda. Ms Greening said:

“Whether you say social mobility, levelling up, equality of opportunity, it is all the same thing. It's about having a level playing field when it comes to opportunity and what you need to do to make sure that happen.

“What's coming out of all the work I've been doing – both whilst I was at the Department for Education and since, more overtly, working with businesses on driving levelling up - is that fundamentally, literally managing that project is probably one of the biggest challenges because it's complex, and so actually, in many respects, delivering it is all about project management.

“Our democratic system works by having people elected … you can end up with a teacher or an accountant running a department. I think there's a bit of a gap there, definitely for politicians on the nuts and bolts of their own skill set in order to be successful.

“It really needs to shift to be much more on who's great at delivering projects on the ground successfully, because there's no point having the best policy in the world if you can't deliver it.

Adam concluded:

“The project profession traditionally is being unfairly associated with construction, infrastructure and the telecoms profession, because I think it's genuinely every single sector.

“The project profession has a really important role to play in social mobility, but actually I think what we're hearing today, is that social mobility can add huge value to effective project delivery as well.”

To hear the full conversation, listen to our podcast here.

 

Channel website: https://www.apm.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.apm.org.uk/news/apm-in-conversation-with-justine-greening/

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