Partner sought for exec digital upskilling program across APS


Efforts to bolster the Australian Public Service’s (APS’s) digital capabilities are heating up with a leadership program aimed at helping senior executives champion digital transformation in their agencies.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is looking for a partner to design and deliver the program that will provide its C-Suite participants with the knowledge, skills and tools to digitally transform their agencies.

To be delivered in partnership with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), the executive training program is part of the Building Digital Capability Program consisting of four key areas: a training marketplace, talent attraction, talent retention, and culture.

Upon completion of the program, senior execs should be able to apply strategic direction to digitally transform the front office experience for citizens, as well as back office business and operational processes.

The program will teach leaders to spot services, products and processes that qualify as ‘low-hanging fruit’ and “can be transformed quickly to enable significant improvements and impact for users of government services, products and processes”.

Senior execs will also learn tactics to transform workplace cultures around digital, according to an Approach to Market released earlier this week. Aligning services with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard is another core tenet of the program.

The chosen supplier will need to provide a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that houses program materials and facilitates peer discussion, among other common virtual learning functions.

The supplier will also need to be able to deliver the program through a combination of ICT-enabled and face-to-face learning strategies, including digitally delivered content, social media content delivery, workplace based learning, webinars, virtual classrooms, self-paced instruction, collaborative forums and discussion groups.

A central component of the DTA’s remit, building digital capability is not reserved for the senior level. Upskilling efforts kicked off last year with a suite of ICT Entry-Level Programs, which are aimed at equipping government with the skills and resources for the future.

ICT capability gaps in the APS have been partly attributed to an over-reliance on ICT contractors. According to the Department of Finance’s Australian Government ICT Trends Report 2015–16, a third of the 14,000 ICT personnel employed by the APS are contractors. Further, over the past five years the share of external ICT personnel has increased, and at the same time the spend on internal ICT personnel has dropped.

ICT procurement has been recognised as an area particularly susceptible to skills shortages. According to the ICT Procurement Taskforce report, reasons for the shortage include a lack of consistent accreditation requirements across government for recruiting procurement professionals. This makes attracting the best and most qualified procurement specialists difficult.

There is also a tendency across some agencies to rely on ‘generalists’ to make procurement decisions. These employees may not have the adequate skills and experience for more complex, high-value ICT purchases.

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