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Strategy to build skills in Government launched

Strategy to build skills in Government launched

CABINET OFFICE News Release issued by The Government News Network on 1 April 2008

Issued On behalf of Government Skills

A strategy committing leaders in the civil service and armed forces to work together on common skills issues was launched today, Tuesday, 1 April 2008, by head of the civil service, Sir Gus O'Donnell.

Government Skills, the sector skills council for central government, has worked with HR directors and learning leads, heads of professions and permanent secretaries to develop the strategy. Called 'Building Professional Skills for Government', it will help departments to deliver higher professional standards, to improve value for money in closing skills gaps and to ensure that candidates for the future workforce are better prepared for a civil service career.

Commenting on the strategy, Gus O'Donnell said:

'Skills are critical to all employers. The global economy is changing rapidly. China and India are growing dramatically and their workforces are becoming ever more highly qualified. The UK's ability to keep pace in this competitive environment will be determined by the skills of its workforce. The civil service is no exception. The public rightly expects us to do more with less. In order to meet the demands of tomorrow, to retain the public's trust and confidence, and to deliver ever-improving services we must use our talents to the full.'

'The successful delivery of this strategy depends on all of us playing our part. Each of us has to make a commitment to learn - to recognise that today's standards are not good enough for tomorrow. This is a challenge that applies to all colleagues across all levels. And I am determined we must meet it.'

The strategy is based on research carried out by Government Skills during 2007 with employers, employees and training providers across the UK. Results showed a strong degree of commonality in the skills issues faced. Evidence from the Capability Reviews of government departments has shown that delivery of services could improve further if skills gaps are addressed. Despite the commonality of the skills issues faced, Government Skills research with training providers showed that departments are not acting together.

The strategy - agreed by government departments and the armed forces - will deliver over a three-year period a new environment, in which:

* increasingly, employees at all levels will understand the professional standards they need to attain, and see the career benefits of attaining them
* employers across government will work together to target investment on current and future common skills priorities
* providers will deliver higher quality, better value skills development programmes, responsive to the needs of the sector
* educational institutions and government employers will engage in practical dialogue to find fresh approaches to strengthening the skills within the talent pool from which we recruit our future workforce.

The strategy identifies a number of specific initiatives at a strategic and tactical level to demonstrate the benefits of common action. These include a programme to create 500 additional apprenticeships in government departments, which for the first time will be part funded by the Learning and Skills Council. Speaking about the apprenticeships pilot, Ian Watmore, permanent secretary for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills - and the new champion for apprenticeships within the civil service - said:

'Apprenticeships are the centrepiece of government policy on skills. They enable individuals of all ages to make the transition that they want to make to succeed in their lives. I am very keen to see apprenticeships take root in the civil service - building on the good work already done on apprenticeships by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Defence and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).'

Government Skills will work on a range of initiatives designed to improve training commissioning. This will include working with the Office of Government Commerce Buying Solutions (OGCbs) to create a learning and development framework contract which can form the basis for delivery partnerships across government. This will improve government's ability to operate as an intelligent customer of training provision.

Finally, the strategy also identifies a programme of engagement with the HE and FE sectors to help to develop the future workforce of the civil service to ensure they develop the skills required by government employers in the years to come. Government Skills will create an Employer Network to bring together employer representatives to exchange knowledge and good practice and increase the quality of individual departmental relationships with HE/FE providers.

Notes to editors
1. Government Skills was licensed as a Sector Skills Council in January 2006 and is one of 25 SSCs charged with driving forward the skills agenda and representing the views of employers. Government Skills became part of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills on 1 April 2008.

2. Government Skills covers the skills and development of over half a million Home civil servants, 26,000 Northern Ireland civil servants, an estimated 65,000 in executive non-departmental public bodies and almost 200,000 armed forces personnel. The small team of learning and development, qualifications specialists and project and stakeholder managers work with employers to develop strategic solutions to common skills issues.

3. 'Building Professional Skills for Government - a strategy for delivery' is available from 1 April 2008 on the Government Skills website under Research and publications:

4. John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills will speak at the Civil Service Live event on Wednesday 2 April at 4.40pm setting out how DIUS will lead on boosting skills and innovation in the public sector and more widely throughout the supply chain.