by the Head of the Home Civil Service
Skills are critical to all employers. The Civil Service is no exception. The public rightly expects us to do more with less. To respond, we must use our talents to the full to deliver ever-improving services to the public. The global economy is changing rapidly. China and India are growing dramatically. Their workforce is 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. This strategy sets out how central government employers, including those in the Armed Forces and Non Departmental Public Bodies, will step up to meet the skills challenge. It sets out a coherent programme of work to take forward Professional Skills for Government, building on the progress we have made over the last couple of years. Delivering this strategy will not be easy. We will only succeed if we all play our part. Each of us has to make a commitment to learn – to recognise that today’s standards are not good enough for tomorrow. That applies as much to Permanent Secretaries as it does to our most junior colleagues. We face no bigger challenge. And I am determined we must meet it.

Sir Gus O’ Donnell Head of the Home Civil Service

by the Chief of the Defence Staff

Skills are the bedrock of our capability and affect every facet of what we do. As the defence environment becomes ever more sophisticated, so the demand for higher skills in the Armed Forces becomes ever more acute. And our agility depends on equipping our people with the right spread of competencies. To be fit for the tasks of tomorrow we must embrace the challenge to develop our professional skills today. The Skills Strategy for Government is the right vehicle to help us meet that challenge. It provides a framework for the Armed Forces and our civilian colleagues to share what works well to the benefit of all. Defence has a tradition of excellence in training and

education - for example around apprenticeships - which we are delighted to help apply in other parts of the Sector. We are equally keen to take advantage of the work to build professional skills which our civilian colleagues are leading to support the skills development of our people. I am committed to delivering this strategy within the Defence community, which makes up almost a quarter of central government. Real progress on skills, however, will require collective effort across government. Where we can work better together, we must. Along with the Cabinet Secretary, I commend this strategy to you.

Sir Jock Stirrup Head of the Armed Forces

1 Executive summary 2 Introduction 3 Case for change 4 Strategy Driving up professional skills standards A new role for Heads of Professions Common action on common skills needs 4 7 13 18 19 21 26

Developing the future workforce through HE and FE 30 Sector-wide application of the strategy 5 Summary of recommendations Appendix 1: Implementation plan 35 38 41

Appendix 2: Implementation costs Appendix 3: Implications for Government Skills Appendix 4: Glossary of terms

45 47 50


Executive summary

Britain needs a skilled workforce at every level if it is to compete and succeed in a dynamic world economy. In the race to be competitive, skills will play a vital role in enabling the UK economy to meet the demands of the global marketplace.
The UK workforce is changing – with fewer young people entering the job market and the growing demand for higher skilled workers, employers are already facing a war for talent. The winners will be those who can develop strategies to deliver a flexible and mobile workforce, able to respond rapidly to environmental shifts and meet employees increasing expectations of job satisfaction.
The Civil Service response

The pace which Government has injected into the skills agenda for the economy as a whole must be mirrored by action to develop its own workforce. Strategies on HR, workforce planning, reward and retention and recruitment and deployment are now beginning to address many of the ‘people’ issues identified in the Capability Reviews. On skills, a co-ordinated programme has been initiated to implement a more structured approach to skills acquisition and development. This began in 2005 with the introduction of the Professional Skills for Government programme, including the PSG competency framework. This framework identified for the first time the set of core and leadership skills which civil servants need to develop to be effective in any role – a common language on skills which is now used across departments and nations. This strategy, with the PSG competency framework at its core, identifies the collective action which is needed to equip government’s present and future workforce with the PSG skills. The objective is to raise standards and enhance individual performance, improve organisational capability and ultimately the quality of public services.

The strategy will deliver, over a three year period, a new environment, in which:
• increasingly, employees at all levels will understand the professional skills standards they need to attain, and see the career benefits of attaining them • employers will work together across government to target investment on current and future common skills priorities • providers will deliver higher quality, better value skills development interventions, responsive to the needs of the sector, and • educational institutions will engage in practical dialogue with government employers to devise fresh approaches to strengthening the skills within the talent pool from which we recruit our future workforce.

This is a strategy for all staff across the sector, not just for those at the top of the Civil Service. It addresses the deep-seated skills needs of staff in front-line posts and those managing the delivery of public services across the UK. It seeks to give them better access to learning opportunities where there is a real benefit for them and for our businesses. And to improve mobility for staff within this sector and beyond. The strategy will assist all employers in the sector to meet Leitch Skills Pledge1 commitments by improving access to accredited learning, in part through apprenticeships. To make this happen, the strategy outlines a number of specific recommendations for action, which build and develop the work of the Professional Skills for Government programme. They assume the extension of the PSG competency framework below middle management, which will begin to be implemented from April 2008. In summary, the strategy proposes:
• setting professional skills standards for all and linking them to careers • strengthening professions to drive the skills standards agenda • joint commissioning to meet common skills needs • investing in a major expansion of apprenticeships, and • starting an ambitious programme of engagement with the HE/FE sector

To bring about change on this scale, affecting up to 800,000 staff, many people will have to put their shoulder to the wheel. Permanent Secretaries will need to provide leadership that stands behind the case for collective action, to agree funding for the change, particularly for the necessary investment in the development of the infrastructure of professions, and to hold Heads of Professions, HR Leaders and Government Skills to account for realising the benefits of the strategy. HR Leaders will need to act to embed professional skills standards over time into the HR processes and decisions of the business, to seize opportunities to direct L&D spending into jointly commissioned, professionally endorsed programmes to address common priority skills gaps, to open up their own models of good practice to other sector employers, and to make sure their own departmental skills strategies are focused on

taking forward the cross-government skills strategy. Heads of Professions will need to accept and deliver on a substantial new set of accountabilities, segmenting their workforce and setting professional skills standards for their members. Working with employers to understand supply and demand, they will need to influence professional career progression, supporting their members in professional development, and linking attainment of standards in the government sector to standards and qualifications recognised in the wider labour market. Government Skills will lead the effort to develop and maintain an evidence-based, forward-looking analysis of common skills needs and work through a new OGC framework contract to build delivery partnerships around those common needs. They will create a new interface between government employers and the tertiary education sector to shape the skills of the talent pool from which the future workforce comes, and, working with Civil Service Capabilities Group in the Cabinet Office, they will support Heads of Professions and HR Leaders in delivering strategic change. The Government Skills Strategy Board will also assume overall responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Skills Strategy and the realisation of benefits. The Board will give six monthly progress reports to PSMG, flagging more urgent issues for the attention of CSSB. The Skills Strategy will benefit the whole sector – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England, NDPBs and Armed Services as well as the Civil Service.


 For more than 90% of the workforce to be qualified to Level 2 (five good GCSEs or equivalent) by 2020



Now is the right time to initiate long term changes in the government sector’s approach to the skills of its own people. The Government’s strong commitment to skills reform, and its investment in this area, matches the powerful case for improving the UK’s skills base, made by Lord Leitch in 2006’s Leitch Review of Skills2. The pressures within government to improve organisational capability, and to reduce dependency on the skills of consultants, make it an urgent necessity to focus on raising the skill levels within our own workforce. Extensive and detailed research fully supports the case for a cross-government skills strategy. In particular, a 2007 analysis of the available evidence found that:

• demand for higher skills is growing, while less skilled jobs are disappearing • persistent and common skills gaps are harming capability and productivity • our learning and development programme falls short of giving our staff the skills the business needs, and • we are not a sufficiently intelligent customer of the supply side The issues are the same right across the sector. The scope of the skills strategy embraces half a million people in the Home Civil Service and the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and also: • over 65,000 people in non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), where professional skills are often of paramount importance and engagement with the wider sector offers many benefits, and • some 200,000 people in the Armed Services, where the structure, culture and requirements are distinct, but there are important issues for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in managing the skills interface with the civilian workforce, both for serving and for retiring personnel. A consultation on the strategy with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland suggests that it resonates strongly with their local priorities. There is an appetite to implement the strategy in a way that fits with their distinctive needs and brings real mutual benefit. This skills strategy responds to a compelling case for change by spelling out concrete recommendations that will lead us towards a much stronger future position. Individual skills, organisational capability, and the quality of public service delivery will all improve because we will have: • a workforce with more of the skills our business needs • people eager to learn those skills and be recognised for their achievements • suppliers delivering high standards and best value in meeting those needs, and • education partners preparing our future workforce with the skills our business needs. To achieve this position will require leaders within the sector to recognise the cross-cutting nature of the issues. They should be prepared to initiate and persist with actions that emphasise a common approach and focus on common standards. Rapid action is needed. Skills gaps are affecting government capability and performance right now, and the tight constraints of the current Spending Review mean that departments must get more from their existing investment in skills. Action on skills will be a vital element in the implementation of a wider People framework across government. Moreover, the Leitch Review and the strategies for the wider economy recently or soon to be published in each part of the UK, have rightly injected urgency into the skills agenda, and government must act on its own prescription. Indeed this skills strategy fulfils the role of a Sector Skills Agreement for the government sector. Accordingly the skills strategy aims to deliver significant changes within the next two to three years, as well as laying firmer foundations for the long term. The skills strategy has three main components: • developing and driving up professional standards and using them to manage careers • taking common action to address common skills needs, and • strengthening the skills in the talent pool used for recruitment, by working closely with the higher and further education sectors.

Developing and driving up professional standards and using them to manage careers The drive to improve professional standards underpins the skills strategy. The following steps should be taken to bring us closer to achieving a higher skilled workforce providing benefits for individuals and the

wider business: • the PSG competency framework should continue to expand, incorporating employees at every level. The framework, managed and developed by Government Skills, aims to provide a transparent structure for career development. Government Skills has worked with departments and professions to articulate the core skills below middle management required across the Civil Service. These core skills will begin to be integrated within departmental HR frameworks and processes from April 2008 • links should be made from the PSG competency framework to National Occupational Standards (NOS), to set the benchmarks for the skills and knowledge required in the Civil Service today • where appropriate, qualifications will be developed which should be transferable, so that the skills of government employees are portable to the wider labour market • the professions – in particular policy and operational delivery – will play a much stronger role in identifying skills needs. Most of our staff work in operational delivery and public service delivery, and there are no comparable roles in the wider labour market to which they directly relate and whose standards they may readily use. It will be necessary for all professions to: – segment their workforce and provide occupational profiles for each of their distinct functions – identify standards for attainment at all grades, drawing on NOS and developing new standards where necessary – articulate the professional expectations for individuals (within their profession) and promote the links between career progression and professional skills, so that employees have an incentive to learn the skills that the business requires – maintain labour market information on the profession, including trends in supply and demand within government and the wider market, to help improve workforce planning, and – invest in their infrastructure and set out to improve standards within a realistic timetable. Common action on common skills needs To meet the targets set out in the skills strategy, leaders must recognise the cross-cutting nature of issues, and collaborate with others to reach shared goals (ie, take common action on common skills needs). In particular, it is important to: • increase significantly the number of apprenticeships in government, with a particular focus on adult apprenticeships • identify common skills needs across the sector that are linked to the PSG competency framework, and focus our efforts on a short list of priorities • initiate a continuing programme of research and consultation to assess future trends in skills requirements and skills gaps, and keep the list of common skills under review • explore options that could prove beneficial across the government, such as opening up a Defence Academy e-learning offer or broadening the availability of National Vocational Qualifications’ accreditation (making use of in-house expertise at the Department for Work and Pensions) • carry out a training needs analysis across the sector, when a common skills need has been identified, but the demand is uncertain • recognise areas of common demand and introduce a commissioning framework so that cost-effective solutions can be readily sourced. This should be modelled on the Office of Government Commerce’s Buying Solutions framework contract (OGCbs), and tested with an early pilot involving joint commissioning, and • stimulate best practice among internal training providers by introducing Civil Service Awards for highquality skills development programmes and for services shared across the sector. Strengthening the skills of the talent pool used for recruitment, through working closely with the higher and further education sectors We should look to the future and identify skills that we would like tomorrow’s employees to possess; and

then work with the higher and further education sectors to make this a reality. Specifically, we should: • develop new ways of engaging with the education sector drawing upon best practice in other Sector Skills Councils • respond to Lord Leitch’s recommendations for employer engagement with Higher Education (HE)/Further Education (FE). Employers within government should liaise more closely with co-ordinating bodies and individual institutions in the HE and FE sectors • continue developing our sector-tailored qualifications, such as foundation degrees, the public sector diploma, and higher-level apprenticeships, and • explore new opportunities for attracting potential employees such as sandwich programmes, short programmes, vocational courses or other forms of employer-student engagement. The skills strategy will benefit the whole workforce – it has purposely been developed to address the needs of the great majority of our staff, rather than focusing on the particular needs of the Senior Civil Service (see Benefits Summary box on page 12). The initiatives introduced above, and described in more detail in section 4, are inclusive in nature and will contribute to developing the skills of all employees. This includes the vast majority (95 per cent of civil servants) who are not part of senior management or the feeder grades for senior management. The drive to improve standards is relevant for the entire sector, and the emphasis on extending the reach of the professions and of the Professional Skills for Government programme opens up opportunities across the workforce. When common action is taken to address common skills deficiencies, all employees will benefit. Areas will be targeted that junior staff have already identified, in surveys, as giving cause for concern, notably information technology, customer service and communication skills. Working more closely with HE and FE will strengthen the talent pool and help develop government’s relationship with these institutions. The skills of the future workforce at all levels will be considered, moving away from the current primary focus on the Fast Stream. The focus on the whole workforce will help ensure that the skills strategy is a positive force for diversity. Its focus on identifying the professional standards required for all roles – not just those at the top of the business – will ensure that all staff have the opportunity to develop to their full potential, encouraged by clearer career pathways. The implementation of the skills strategy will have modest costs (£4-5m over the SR07 period, mainly for investment in the infrastructure of the two largest professional groupings). Our investment in skills development will come primarily from the substantial budgets already allocated within departments, supplemented by an investment in sector apprenticeships from the Learning and Skills Council. It will also require real commitment from business, human resources, and professional leaders across the sector. Crucially, we will need to embrace common standards and common investment and address the skills issues that we all share.

Skills Strategy benefits summary
Benefits for employers:
• • • • • higher professional skills standards across the workforce information and tools to enable better workforce planning progress in closing common skills gaps – current and future better value for money from investment in skills development easier access to best practice, quality assured training in common skills, and • candidates for the future workforce better prepared in relevant skills.

Benefits for employees:
• clearer professional career paths • readier access to transferable skills and qualifications • support for skills and career development from a professional cross-sector grouping • more scope for mobility within and beyond the sector, and • improved specific skills development opportunities, including many more apprenticeships.


Case for change

The case for moving towards a more strategic approach to skills in government is compelling and evidence-based. Now is the time to act, because: • there is strong ministerial commitment to skills as an economic policy priority, backed by a broad political consensus • the Leitch Report has highlighted the critical importance of the skills agenda and galvanised action3, not least within the Civil Service (Permanent Secretaries were amongst the first national employers to sign the Skills Pledge4) • each of the devolved administrations treats skills as a top strategic priority5 • the Civil Service Capability Reviews have stimulated renewed focus on employee skills issues within government, including the skills required for the challenges of the future, and • skills development is a critical component of the emerging Civil Service People Framework It is clear that the Government, as an employer, should follow its own economic policies regarding the

development of human capital. Government has shown leadership in its response to Leitch by committing to the Skills Pledge, and is moving away from the dated notion that the public sector workforce is an entity quite discrete from the wider labour market. The same labour market pressures apply, and the requirement is for a strategy that offers our businesses and our people the benefits of relevant, transferable skills that are aligned to professional standards and are recognised in the economy as a whole. The case for change is firmly based in evidence. Some of the key points are set out in the remainder of this section. The evidence base gathered and analysed by Government Skills, with the support of the Sector Skills Development Agency, is available on the Government Skills website at There is a growing need for skills at high and intermediate levels throughout the economy. The demand for professional skills is forecast to grow by 57 per cent across all sectors by 2014, including in better remunerated sectors such as financial services. At the same time, the number of lower-skilled positions within the government sector will continue to shrink, by an estimated 25-50,000 posts in the decade leading up to 2014.6 Improvements in earning power for individual employees in the sector rise from 10 per cent for a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs at Grades A*-C), to over 60 per cent for a Level 5 qualification (equivalent to an Honours degree) – and are negative at Level 1. Unless government employers make a long term commitment to upskilling, they risk being unable to buy in the higher skilled people required. They will also not be ready to offer the lower skilled the training and development they will need to do their changing jobs. Raising skill levels in the workforce makes good business sense, and failing to do so would be at odds both with the Government’s wider agenda and its responsibilities as an employer. The commitment to upskilling needs to be made for the long term, but the problem of skills gaps is not part of some hypothetical future. There are real, current skills gaps in the sector workforce, and they are impacting and will continue to impact on capability and productivity. The Civil Service Capability Reviews have highlighted serious corporate weaknesses, directly linked to weaknesses in individual skills, many of them in familiar areas such as leadership, people management and programme and project management, where skills gaps have persisted over a period of years. The Capability Reviews identified 74 areas for action for departments, and half are directly related to shortfalls in individual skills, particularly leadership, while many others depend indirectly on improvements in people management and other skills. According to the third tranche report, “departments do not consistently take a strategic approach to developing, managing and deploying their people to meet business needs. This can lead to frustration and unfulfilled potential at an individual level, and worrying skills and talent gaps at departmental level”.7

  Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills, Final Report of the Leitch Review, December 2006 4   The Pledge confirmed the commitment of employers to offer support to staff to gain their first Level 2 qualification (five good GCSEs or equivalent) 5   Success through Skills: the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, February 2006; Skills for Scotland: a Lifelong Skills Strategy, September 2007; a skills strategy for Wales is expected to be published early in 2008 6   Working Futures 2004-2014 Sectoral Report, Institute for Employment Research, January 2006

The evidence also shows that the current mechanisms for addressing skills gaps, through learning and development in the sector, are ineffective. 25 per cent of employers surveyed in 2007 identified “failure to train and develop staff” as the main cause of skills gaps within their organisation – the single most commonly selected factor. And while 42 per cent of employees surveyed felt they needed more training to do their current job, no less than 23 per cent of staff reported receiving no training whatsoever in the previous year.8 Commissioning of courses, and the allocation of learning opportunities, are highly devolved at present. This is despite the shared needs of employers across the sector. Decisions are generally taken at a business unit level or below, and are often driven more by performance reviews and individual employee

preferences than by the workforce plan. This disconnect is compounded by the fact that the weak links between career progression and skills development do little to bring individual choice and business needs into alignment. While the PSG competency framework is widely used by employers across government as the core skills framework, it has not yet fully engaged staff in learning the skills that employers want. Developing skills is a large scale and business-critical investment cost for employers, but at present the government sector is not getting best value for money. The sector (excluding Armed Forces) probably spends between £500m and £1bn per annum on learning and development, although the collection and analysis of data is inconsistent across the sector and so reliable quantification and evaluation is not possible at present. What is more certain is that at the same time, the sector spends £2bn each year on consultants, much of it to plug gaps in skilled resource. In surveys, some 70 per cent of organisations cite the existence of a skills gap as a reason for engaging consultants. There will be cases, within government, when the skills gaps cannot be plugged internally, eg, if the skills required are highly specialist or the need is short term and it would not be rational to try and maintain them in-house. It would then be appropriate to engage consultants. However, consultants are most often used for information technology (IT), change management, and project management.9 Right across the sector, these correlate with the skills areas identified by both employers and employees as being most in need of development. For senior staff, the most pressing areas for development are people management skills (circa 70 per cent agreement), leadership skills (circa 70 per cent agreement) and project management skills (50-60 per cent agreement). For more junior staff the common skills gaps identified are in customer service (47 per cent agreement), communication (43 per cent agreement) and IT skills (43 per cent agreement). Yet despite this strong commonality of need, there is little effort to secure economies of scale or scope from the supply side, which currently consists of a plethora of inhouse training functions and external training providers (15,000 on some estimates – 150,000 on others).10 Turning to the issue of the talent pool used for recruitment, it should be acknowledged that Government remains fortunate in its ability to recruit highly talented graduate entrants, particularly through the Fast Stream. This system ensures that graduates consistently rate government one of the top four employers of choice. We will continue to seek out talented graduates from a variety of disciplines. However within the HE/FE community, there is no coherent, focused set of educational opportunities specifically geared to replenishing the pool of skills the sector needs, at graduate level and below. Demand for vocational qualifications at intermediate and higher levels is growing, as students become increasingly conscious of the need to earn returns on their qualifications and repay debt. Other Sector Skills Councils are working with HE/FE to create tailored programmes designed to attract potential recruits and replenish the talent pool of potential employees. For example, e-skills UK, the highly regarded IT Sector Skills Council, has worked extensively with universities and employers to create a number of tailored programmes and approaches, including the IT Management for Business degree. At the FE level, HM Government recently stated its commitment to a major expansion of apprenticeships11 and to “ensuring that all programmes add economic value through focusing on skills that employers want”. Employers in the government sector must be a part of this movement.
  Capability Reviews Tranche 3 Findings and Common Themes, Cabinet Office, March 2007, p.48. 8   Figures from a survey of government sector employers carried out by Ipsos/Mori, and a survey of government sector employees carried out by GfK/NOP, both commissioned by Government Skills in 2007

  Central Government’s use of consultants, NAO 2006 10   Understanding and mapping training provision in the world of Government, COI Interim Update, 2007 11   Opportunity, Employment and Progression: making skills work, DIUS/DWP November 2007

The skills strategy does not need to start from scratch. A range of initiatives to promote

skills development is already under way and beginning to have a positive impact in the workforce. A small number of examples are included in this paper, shown in purple text boxes.

Case Study: The Skills Pledge
On 18 April 2007, government departments representing around 475,000 employees chose to make the Skills Pledge at a special event organised by Government Skills. A second pledge signing ceremony was held on 3 October 2007 for the three new departments in Whitehall created by Machinery of Government changes. Government employers were the first national employers to make this important commitment. Permanent Secretaries from across government are now committed to ensuring that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and their first full Level 2 qualification (broadly equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C). The Skills Pledge requires employers to make good progress in upskilling all their staff by 2010. Departments are now developing Pledge Action Plans, detailing how they aim to make progress. Resources are already being allocated to identify needs within departments and will target appropriate skills development interventions. The Skills Pledge sits alongside Government’s commitment to Local Employment Partnerships. It demonstrates the determination of government employers to support staff, at all levels, who want to boost their prospects and secure their jobs, by learning the skills they need.



Driving up professional skills standards The objective of this strategy is to equip government’s present and future workforce with the skills our business needs, raising standards and enhancing individual performance, organisational capability, and ultimately the quality of public services.

To achieve this, our people need to know what skills they should be learning, be eager to learn those skills, have good opportunities to learn them, and be recognised when they have. The first step is to devise a framework of skills that we will expect people to develop. We have already laid strong foundations for this with the establishment of the PSG competency framework. Although the framework only formally applies within the Civil Service, it is widely used throughout the government sector. The main limitation at present is its patchy and inconsistent application among the vast majority of staff below middle management12. To target this area of weakness, a central part of the implementation of this strategy is the proposed extension of the core skills in the PSG competency framework below middle management. We need to go further to take steps to ensure that the PSG competency framework is used to drive up skills standards throughout our diverse workforce. Building on the work that has already been done, we will identify professional skills standards covering all roles in the sector workforce. These will be underpinned by National Occupational Standards and, where appropriate, qualifications, so that they will be portable to the wider labour market. This approach will enable us to make the PSG competency framework more meaningful for all staff. It will forge stronger links between career progression and attainment of professional standards, and align employee and business demand for skills.

Useful definitions
Core skills are the generic, transferable skills required to work effectively in government, such as leadership, financial management and communications. Core skills are centrally defined by the PSG competency framework. Departments and agencies will take responsibility to ensure that their employees develop these skills. Professional skills are the skills required for a particular role or group of roles – eg, legal skills for lawyers or customer service and processing skills for contact centre staff. In most cases, the standards appropriate to these skills will be set by a Head of Profession, with reference to external frameworks of standards and qualifications, where they exist. Professional skills are distinct from core skills. Professional standards are the skills standards appropriate to a particular role or level of seniority within a professional grouping.


 In the Civil Service, “below middle management” means below Grade 7.

To achieve a robust framework of professional skills standards right across the sector, we need to segment the workforce to ensure that the standards set are relevant for individual job roles. See box on page 23, ‘What is workforce segmentation?’ There are currently 25 recognised professions in the Civil Service and the vast majority of staff can be considered to belong to one of them. 75 per cent of staff belong to the operational delivery or policy delivery professions, including over 200,000 staff working in administrative roles (AA/AO and equivalents). It is in these two professions that the big implementation challenges are to be found: they are critical to public service delivery and in neither case is it easy to draw on the work of professions outside the Civil Service (ie, there is a no Chartered Association of Operational Delivery Professionals). Within these two large professions, segments are already starting to crystallise. For example, the operational delivery profession is made up of contact, processing and casework centres, amongst others. An active approach to segmentation is already taken in some parts of the Civil Service (such as the Office for National Statistics and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Going forward, it will also be important to review whether the 25 professions already in existence – which came into existence over many decades and in an ad hoc manner – do indeed segment today’s workforce in the most appropriate way. The Civil Service Capabilities Group in the Cabinet Office are bringing forward proposals for an overall approach to extending workforce segmentation. These proposals will be integrated into the development of the People Framework and aligned with the approach advocated in Sir Suma Chakrabarti’s Review of the Role of The Cabinet Office (2007).

The implementation of the skills strategy will make a real difference to individuals within the government sector, giving them better chances of identifying and developing the skills

that will enable them to succeed in their chosen jobs and careers. This paper includes in (blue text boxes) a small number of case studies that are based on genuine situations. They illustrate how the implementation of the strategy will benefit current and future employees.

Case study: improving professional standards
How a clearer career pathway promotes upward mobility
Dipti, 38, joined the Civil Service as a Fast Stream assistant economist after leaving university with a PhD in economics. She held a number of policy and private office posts within the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. In 2008, she went for her first Senior Civil Service (SCS) assessment panel and was unsuccessful. Her feedback showed that she needed to deepen her core skills, particularly people management, and broaden her experience of non-policy roles. Dipti was disappointed, and confused about how to gain broader experience without moving away from her specialist knowledge. She found it difficult to identify her next move. Following the introduction of the skills strategy in 2008, the Head of Profession for policy delivery developed standards and articulated career pathways for individuals within the profession. Working with advisors in the profession, and with her departmental brokerage service, Dipti was able to find a year long secondment to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, working as a social trends analyst across government, analysing the impact of different policies and delivery mechanisms. To improve her people management skills, Dipti was also advised to volunteer as a mentor in a pilot scheme being set up by the policy profession as part of their work to bring on talent within the profession. She hopes these experiences will develop her skills and give her a better chance at her second SCS assessment panel.

What is workforce segmentation?
Workforce segmentation involves grouping employees into segments with common characteristics such as function, expertise or location. Segmentation is not an end in itself; rather, it is a means to enable more tailored workforce planning. The aim within our sector is to create a more capable workforce that is better placed to deliver Government’s goals.

Employer benefits
Workforce segmentation can be linked to professional standards. Employers can benefit from this approach because it becomes: • more straightforward to recruit suitably skilled staff, as a result of focused talent management, and • easier to retain capable staff due to the opportunities provided by employee development and enhanced cross-sector mobility.

Employee benefits
Segmentation also has benefits for employees, notably: • clearer career paths • greater internal and external marketability, and • closer engagement with their own professional communities. In operational delivery, segmentation could focus on functions – eg, processing, case work and customer contact. In policy delivery, it might focus on themes that cut across departments – eg, social or economic policy.

A new role for Heads of Professions The Heads of Profession will have a central role in ensuring that the skills strategy is a success. In future, they will be accountable for: • segmenting their profession and providing occupational profiles for each of the distinct functions within the profession • maintaining labour market information on the profession, including trends in supply and demand within government and in the wider market, to help provide the business with the tools for better workforce planning • providing standards for attainment at all grades that are covered by the profession and ensuring they are applied rigorously – drawing on National Occupational Standards as a default option, and developing new standards when necessary • providing tools and guidance to individual members and managers in their profession to measure individuals’ professional competence, including recognition of prior and experiential learning

• preparing an analysis demonstrating how the skills in the profession in central government relate to the skills used by the profession in the wider economy, and • working with human resources (HR) and learning and development teams in departments to ensure that standards and qualifications are progressively integrated into HR systems (eg, for recruitment, performance management, learning and development, pay, succession planning etc).

There are working models in place within government that clearly show the feasibility and effectiveness of this enhanced role for the professions. A case study of the IT profession is provided here, along with a short overview of progress in the Finance profession overleaf. Other professions are much less developed, and the majority still have a long way to go.

Case Study: the Government Information Technology Profession
A Segmentation Success Story
Spearheading the movement towards segmentation is the Government Information Technology Profession. The Profession works to create a joined-up, government-wide IT profession, providing careers that benefit both the individual and the government. The organisation, established in 2005, brings together all IT professionals in the UK’s public sector, including government departments and agencies, local government, the health sector and the emergency services. There are up to 15,000 potential members within central government and another 35,000 in the wider public sector. The organisation is run from the Cabinet Office’s Transformational Government Unit. A team of 11 people support the head of profession by providing overall strategic direction and leadership on cross–departmental and cross–sector issues relating to IT. The Chief Information Officer Council assists with sponsorship and direction. The impact of the joined-up approach is impressive. A (virtual) Government IT Academy is being developed and the team are currently mid-way through implementing professionalism across the public sector, through outreach activities. Once implementation is complete, the team will reduce in numbers. The Government IT Profession also runs the Technology in Business Fast Stream programme.

Where the IT profession stands against the expectations set out in this paper Objective Achievement

To segment their profession and provide occupational profiles for each distinct function

Seven competency groups developed, recognised across the IT profession, sharing good practice and

within the profession.

developing occupational profiles.

To maintain labour market information on the profession, including trends in supply and demand within government and in the wider market.

The profession has carried out a formal independent survey that included diversity and demography, and intend to continue surveying at least annually. The profession has established a Chief Information Officer level group on performance and reward and another on talent management.

To provide standards for attainment at all grades that are covered by the profession.

The profession is working towards this with e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council focusing on the IT profession UK-wide (e-Skills is revising the National Occupational Standards). The profession is developing a qualifications framework to back up the standards.

To provide tools and guidance to individual members and managers within their profession to measure individuals’ professional competence, including a recognition of prior and experiential learning.

There is guidance on the Government IT Profession’s web site, and this section will be enhanced with a new product set. Existing assessment tools (notably InfoBasis and e-skills) are supplemented by others developed in the public sector (eg, by the Northern Ireland Civil Service and by Leeds City Council).

To develop an analysis explaining how the skills This requirement is not relevant here, as government in the profession in central government relate professionals use the same specialist and behavioural to the skills used by the profession in the wider skill set used in the private sector. economy.

To support the Heads of Professions in driving up standards, Government Skills will: • provide advice on standards and qualification development • review the quality of professional standards to ensure they are consistent with standards in other professions across the sector and, where relevant, consistent with externally verified standards • support professions to envision future demand for skills and plan accordingly, and • work with the Civil Service Capabilities Group to ensure that there is a commonality of approach across professions and an effective dialogue with the business.The Government Skills Strategy Board will report to the Permanent Secretaries Management Group (PSMG) on the extent to which professions are meeting their new accountabilities. To enable Heads of Professions to meet these accountabilities, targeted investment will be needed in the infrastructure of the professions. At the moment, capability varies widely depending on a number of factors:

Case study: the Government Finance Profession (GFP)
Implementing a cross-government approach
The Government Finance Profession was rebranded in April 2006, replacing the Government Accountancy Service. Its emphasis has been on securing world-class financial management for departments across central government. There are nearly 7,800 finance professionals in government today and 90 per cent of total resource spending is in departments with a qualified Finance Director (FD). Overall, 93 per cent of departments now have qualified FDs , which compares with 39 per cent in 2004. The team has also introduced accelerated training programmes, in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). These programme give senior managers, with significant financial experience , the opportunity to qualify as finance professionals. Financial management is one of the core skills in the PSG competency framework, and the GFP is working to improve skills in this area for non-finance professions across the sector. An important development has been the launch of a Fast Stream Finance option and the creation of Finance Skills for All as part of the Love Learning programme. Designed to improve financial literacy, this online training course is open to all civil servants.

“The Civil Service needs to cement and strengthen strong functional leadership, and, in particular, formalise the emerging model of co-development and hence co-ownership of proposed solutions between professions and departments.”
Suma Chakrabarti’s Review of the Role of the Cabinet Office, Annex: Common Standards and Processes across Government, November 2007

• maturity and external recognition – professions vary sharply in age and status, and the more mature are in most cases able to draw on standards, tools and expertise readily available outside the Civil Service • resourcing – levels of resource available for the infrastructure of the professions vary dramatically, with no obvious link to the size of the profession or their strategic contribution to Government outcomes, and • cohesion – where a profession has a short list of occupational profiles (eg, law or economics) it is easier to establish and prioritise investment around common skill standards. That is harder in the more diverse professions (eg, operational delivery) where further segmentation is needed.

It will take both time and money to bring all professions up to the standard of the most developed. The two largest and most diverse professions, operational delivery and policy delivery, have the greatest distance to travel and the least to draw on in terms of external benchmarks. They must represent the most urgent priorities for investment and development. Further research is required into their resourcing requirements and discussions needed with the two Heads of Profession. At this stage, the cost estimates in Appendix 2 have been based on an additional ten full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in operational delivery and five FTEs in policy delivery. With this level of effort, these two key professions should be able to make substantial progress over the next three years. In the first half of 2008, the smaller and more specialist professions will need to evaluate the feasibility of meeting the challenges set out above, assessing the resources required, and setting a realistic but stretching timetable. Again, further discussions will be needed with the Heads of Profession. At this stage, cost estimates are based on the provision of three FTEs for a small shared services function working across the smaller professions (ie, excluding operational delivery, policy delivery, human resources, finance, information technology, legal and economics). The pace of progress towards meeting the accountabilities set out here is likely to vary, but again it is realistic to look for a material impact within three years. Over time, as professions mature and gain capability and authority, attainment of professional standards will become increasingly important for career progression. It would not be wise or practicable to impose a rigid framework of qualification requirements across all professional groupings in an attempt to create standardised career gateways. Nevertheless, each profession will want to look hard at the relevance and standing of accredited qualifications appropriate to their own people, and work with business and HR leaders to set expectations, shape career pathways linked to attainment of standards and qualifications. Ultimately, the aim is to raise the professional bar where it is appropriate to do so. This is the only way to ensure that the business gets people into posts with the right standard of professional skills, and that people want to learn the professional skills that the business wants them to have.

Case study: becoming an HR professional
Career progression through cross-sector employment
Neil, 26, graduated from university in 2005 and after a series of temporary jobs, successfully applied for a post in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) as a human resources administrator. His role was primarily focused on recruiting individuals to the department. After a year in post, Neil expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the recruitment process. One of Neil’s colleagues left SIS the following year and Neil was asked to sit on the sift panel for her replacement. Through this experience, Neil saw that SIS had begun requiring candidates for HR positions to be accredited to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) on entry, or be willing to study for a CIPD qualification soon after joining the Service. (This policy is shared by most other departments on the advice of the HR head of profession.) Neil spoke to his manager about how he might become a qualified HR professional. Having sought guidance from the HR profession, his manager found him a job-shadowing opportunity in another department to help broaden Neil’s understanding of the profession. There were few short term opportunities for progression within HR in the SIS, so Neil applied for executive officer posts in the larger, operational departments and was offered a job in the Ministry of Justice. His new department has agreed to fund him through the first

part of his CIPD qualification and will also put him in touch with a colleague who will act as a coach to help cement his learning.

Common action on common skills needs It is essential for the success of the skills strategy, and to underpin the PSG competency framework, that professional standards are developed and professional infrastructures are put in place so that levels of skills can be increased. However, Heads of Profession, and their colleagues in the business who control the resources to invest in skills development, need a better set of tools at their disposal to develop skills. The key strategic principle proposed here is that when there is a common skills need (ie, a need that is common across all or much of the sector) we should take common action to address it. A three-step approach will be required to: • devise common professional standards • identify common skills priorities, and • take action in common. The first step towards taking action in common is to identify common skills needs. A substantial body of evidence exists, including survey evidence of skills gaps (see section 3 above), functional mapping, and departments’ own skills strategies. This evidence has been used to draw up a list of core skills required for extending the PSG competency framework and will form the basis around which common action is taken. This is not a centrally mandated solution. In all cases, it is the business that must determine which skills to prioritise and what action to take. The benefits of common action in each case need to be sufficiently clear so that decision-makers will choose common action because it offers better value. This is a dynamic rather than a static list. In order to ensure that the list is both evidence-based and future-orientated, Government Skills will initiate a programme of research and consultation to assess future trends in skills requirements and skills gaps. Co-ordinating its own efforts with those of the National School of Government, Government Skills will target part of its research investment at spotting trends and surfacing and specifying emerging requirements so that we anticipate future skills gaps rather than chase the market. For example, it is already clear that “a thorough understanding of how to apply sustainable development principles will need to be a key part of policy skills for the future, as will the ability to engage the wider public in the development and implementation of new ideas”.13 Common skills needs (based on PSG)

Information and communication technology (ICT) user skills

Programme and project management

Customer service

Analysis and use of evidence

People management

Communications and marketing

Financial management

Strategic thinking


Case study: Workplace 2010 and Essential Skills
How learning new skills transformed the futures of 300 staff
Workplace 2010 is a reform initiative in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) that has directly affected 300 support grade staff who provide messenger, security and reception services for NICS buildings. Developing new skills has been a crucial factor in successful redeployment of affected staff within the Service. A comprehensive programme, including a lateral transfer scheme and a training package, has opened up different career pathways for individuals who have been affected by Workplace 2010, allowing them to move from support grades to administrative grades. Individuals have been given the opportunity to learn interview techniques and participate in a pilot Essential Skills programme covering IT, communication, literacy and numeracy – skills important for their new roles. Over three-quarters of the eligible staff applied for lateral transfer, and most of them benefited from the interview training. Over a third of them joined the Essential Skills pilot. The success rate, in terms of those selected for redeployment, is close to 100 per cent. This means that there will be no compulsory transfers of support grade staff to the private sector as a result of Workplace 2010. The Essential Skills pilot will soon be evaluated so that it can inform future policy in the NICS.

The goal is that for each of the common skills needs identified, there will be a shared understanding across the sector about what each means and the nature of current and future requirements. There is then the opportunity for departments – as customers of services – to rapidly source high-quality skills development solutions, to bring their staff up to common, professionally endorsed skills standards. To enable effective common action, the skills strategy includes a number of recommendations which are designed to: • provide a better definition of common skills needs, and develop the right strategy to meet them • ensure an efficient and effective means of procurement for skills development services (including, but by no means limited to, training), and • increase the quality and value for money of learning provision.

Few in central Government disagree in theory with common action. However, the challenge is in ensuring that taking common action, and meeting departmental business needs, is mutually reinforcing. This means building on the best of what currently exists, rather than expecting departments to follow a top-down model. The recommendations are necessarily both tactical and strategic. Tactical recommendations are designed to build on initiatives already under way or planned within the sector, demonstrating the benefits of common action and providing examples of good practice on which we can build in the future. Strategic recommendations are designed to change the nature of the commissioning process, enabling employers to get better value in the medium term. Together, the recommendations will provide a better common understanding of skills needs; put in place the mechanisms to deliver those needs in partnership; and reward and open up examples of successful delivery. At a strategic level, we will move progressively towards joint commissioning of programmes to address common skills needs. The key steps to achieving this will be: • co-developing a Learning and Development Framework Contract with Office of Government Commerce Buying Solutions (OGCbs), which can form the basis for subsequent development of delivery partnerships • carrying out cross-sector training needs analysis, in targeted common skills areas, so as to better understand common learning and development needs, and • piloting a joint commissioning model by building on existing work conducted for the Analysis and Use of Evidence core skill. This approach should then be evaluated and rolled out to all the common skills areas on the list (and to other areas which may be agreed in future). Few in central Government disagree in theory with common action. However, the challenge is in ensuring that taking common action, and meeting departmental business needs, is mutually reinforcing. This means building on the best of what currently exists, rather than expecting departments to follow a top-down model. The recommendations are necessarily both tactical and strategic. Tactical recommendations are designed to build on initiatives already under way or planned within the sector, demonstrating the benefits of common action and providing examples of good practice on which we can build in the future. Strategic recommendations are designed to change the nature of the commissioning process, enabling employers to get better value in the medium term. Together, the recommendations will provide a better common understanding of skills needs; put in place the mechanisms to deliver those needs in partnership; and reward and open up examples of successful delivery. At a strategic level, we will move progressively towards joint commissioning of programmes to address common skills needs. The key steps to achieving this will be: • co-developing a Learning and Development Framework Contract with Office of Government Commerce Buying Solutions (OGCbs), which can form the basis for subsequent development of delivery partnerships • carrying out cross-sector training needs analysis, in targeted common skills areas, so as to better understand common learning and development needs, and • piloting a joint commissioning model by building on existing work conducted for the Analysis and Use of Evidence core skill. This approach should then be evaluated and rolled out to all the common skills areas on the list (and to other areas which may be agreed in future).

At a tactical level, we will work with departments to: • launch a pathfinder programme of 500 additional apprenticeships in government. For the first time, the Learning and Skills Council has agreed to part-fund the programme and will consider further funding if it is a success • open the MOD Defence Academy Consortium’s suite of e-learning products to other sector employers • develop a skills award for internal providers, initially as a new category for the Civil Service Awards • open the Department for Work and Pensions’ NVQ accreditation centre to other sector employers for consultancy advice and delivery of NVQs, and • pilot ITQ, an IT training and qualification programme in DWP and HM Revenue & Customs, to provide a robust return on investment data for a qualifications-based approach in this area. This range of strategic and tactical initiatives is examined further in the table.14 This strategic and tactical approach to taking common action on common skills priorities will contribute to raising the skills levels of the current workforce, up to the professional standards set by Heads of Professions and within the areas the business chooses to prioritise. Through the development of a common approach to commissioning, it will give us powerful levers to drive up the performance and value for money offered by suppliers. It will also provide a strong employer voice to influence provision (including HE/FE provision) to meet business needs and drive up the skills of the current workforce.

Once the strategy is agreed, we will clearly set out the offer to departments and move beyond acceptance in principle to ‘buy-in’ in practice. This means asking them to join the common action, where appropriate, and identifying areas in which they do not want to commit. This will help us evolve the strategy over time in response to demand.



Next steps, including timetable for action

Co-develop a learning and development framework contract with to be used as the basis for subsequent development of delivery partnerships.

Based on prudent take-up Already well into process of developing estimates and guideline framework. Co-develop Invitation to Tender (ITT) figures for economies of to ensure targeting of common skills needs and scale, indicative savings facilitation of delivery partnerships. might rise from £0.25Government Skills to engage the professions in £0.5m in the first year to this work with OGC. £2.5-£5m per annum. Delivery partnerships will ITT issued (end March 2008) contracts issued improve performance by (end July 2008). offering tailored solutions to common skills needs. These Pilot delivery partnership negotiated (September 2008). benefits will be revisited once the OGCbuying Roll out joint commissioning model (January 2009 solutions contracts are in onwards). place.

Undertake cross-sector training needs analysis in targeted common skills areas.

Better specification of requirements will lead to better solutions, and progress in closing priority skills gaps.

Pilot training needs analysis. Evaluate and roll out full programme of training needs analysis in other common skills areas (October 2008 onwards).

Pilot joint commissioning model in Analysis and Use of Evidence core skill.

Builds on existing work in Government researchers have agreed in principle an important skills area and to take common action on skills relating to ‘Use will provide crucial lessons of evidence and analytical skills’. This is already to enable us to maximise underway within the Department of Communities employers’ confidence in and Local Government. the full range of jointly Agree scope and plan for the pilot (March 2008). commissioned solutions and thus the quality and Pilot Training needs analysis (April 2008), agree efficiency benefits realised. requirement across sector (June 2008), commission delivery partner (September 2008), achieve target spend on the joint product (June 2009). Performance benefits from Confirm co-funding for 500 places with the enhanced Level 3 skills Learning and Skills Council and the Department appropriate to government. for Innovation, Universities & Skills. Co-ordinate Possible diversity benefits, marketing and design activity among especially from adult departments. apprenticeships. Sign up departments to Pathfinder (starting with five large departments) (February 2008). Agree plan with HR Directors to stimulate demand (early March 2008). All 500 places – September 2008).

Pilot expansion of apprenticeships in government.

Open up the MOD’s

Re-use of an existing

Support MOD in dialogue with potential sector



Next steps, including timetable for action

suite of e-learning products to the wider sector.

system could substantially reduce average costs, promote common standards, and establish a strong precedent.

customers to assess fit to need and overcome barriers to sharing. Define and publicise offer on Government Skills’ website (April 2008).

Develop a skills award for internal (and external) providers.

Produces case studies on ‘what good looks like’, incentivises high quality delivery, and strengthens networks.

Explore fit with Civil Service Awards, sponsorship opportunities, develop communications processes. Agree proposals with Civil Service Award Organisers in time for next round of awards (February 2008). Award first skills award (November 2008).

Open up DWP’s NVQ accreditation centre.

Enabler for expansion of apprenticeship numbers. Efficiency benefits from shared services.

Agree operating principles and procedures with DWP and resolve operational challenges (eg, headcount limits). This is a vital underpinning for cost-effective delivery of apprenticeships (March 2008).

Pilot ITQ in DWP and HMRC.

Return on investment (ROI) data from evaluation will quantify benefits of common action on IT qualifications. Responds to strong employee demand. Contribution to Leitch targets.

Commission pilot and baseline – first with HMRC and possibly DWP. Secure full agreement in HMRC and explore DWP participation (May 2008). Assess needs; develop plan and launch (October 2008).

Developing the future workforce through HE and FE We will pursue similar, but longer term goals with respect to the future workforce and the development of the talent pool from which the government sector will draw when recruiting in the years to come. This strategic aim will involve the development of the knowledge base, engagement with employers, and working with education partners to address future needs. It will not come to fruition in the short term, but will spread the area of engagement to encompass both the skills needs of current employees and, for the first time, the future skills needs of the sector.

Case study: apprenticeship
Career development through a modern apprenticeship
Kieran, 47, left school at 16 with four O Grades, and joined the Scottish Office where he held a number of administrative posts over 20 years. Successive appraisals identified development needs in oral and written communication skills. In 2008, as an employee of the Scottish Executive, Kieran became a beneficiary of the additional investment in adult apprenticeship schemes when he was recommended for the Modern Apprenticeship Programme (MAPlus). This programme is geared towards individuals already in the working environment, and provided opportunities for him to develop new skills whilst building on his previous work experience. Kieran completed the course and achieved a qualification as well as developing newfound confidence. His colleagues have noticed that he has greater presence in the team, and his performance has improved markedly.

The Leitch Report set a clear ambition for “a step change in liaison between employers and higher education institutions”, with the aim of providing programmes that more closely meet the needs of business for “economically valuable skills”. The goal is to extend HE provision away from its traditional focus on the 18-30 age group, so that it covers the whole adult workforce. In addition, the development of vocational qualifications provided by FE Colleges, among others, should be based on employer demand and business need. Following Lord Leitch’s recommendations, funding for vocational qualifications, including at higher levels, will in future be linked to employer demand, through the relevant SSC.15 The current situation is patchy. The Lambert Review in 2003 reported that employers found it ‘difficult to engage’ with HE providers and that there was ”widespread employer concern about the job-readiness of graduates.16 While in general, FE providers have a closer engagement with employers, this is primarily on a department by department basis, around training and development for current employees. This is an

extensive and diverse sector in which a large number of institutions operate. It is not realistic for each department to develop relationships in this complex environment, and it is particularly difficult for the smaller departments.

We will develop a co-ordinated approach that is capable of supporting the tactical benefits identified above, in terms of current common needs, and delivering strategic benefits in terms of the future needs of the sector. This will mean setting up an active interface between the three key partner groups using Government Skills, in its role as SSC, to facilitate the interaction. The first step will be to create a strong clear and co-ordinated employer voice which can influence provision. The Employer Network will brings together representatives from across the sector to: • identify common current and future needs where HE/FE provision is applicable. This will be informed by our research work on common skills • exchange knowledge and good practice to increase the quality of individual departmental relationships with HE/FE providers, and • provide an evidence-based analysis of employer demand that will speak to HE/FE providers and influence their future provision. Concurrently, we will pursue four strands of activity in this area – developing current programmes, addressing gaps in current provision, influencing delivery and encouraging employer-student engagement. Key elements of each strand are highlighted below.

Developing current programmes We will examine the opportunities provided by existing programmes to create a future workforce with a headstart in the skills required by the sector. We will create a continuous progression of provision with opportunities at each level for entry into the workforce or further study; and ensure provision of such programmes is considered in terms of both the existing and future workforce. As an example: Detailed work is already in hand, through the Public Services Diploma Development Project, to secure HE support for the Diploma and to ensure that it equips students with the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding required to progress through to foundation degrees and/or first degrees. Addressing gaps in current provision The trend towards vocational degree courses highlights the absence of a qualification at this level for attracting future government recruits. A new qualification could be tailored to meet the needs of central government. (see tables at the end of this section) Influencing delivery

We will now explore opportunities for influencing the current methods of delivery. Encouraging employer-student engagement Initial research involving employers and Sector Skills Councils suggests that considerable mutual benefit is gained by bringing employers and the learning environment together. Students benefit from exposure to current, work-focused expertise and employers forge productive links with potential recruits.

The next step after the establishment of an Employer Network is to create a forum for direct engagement with key HE and FE providers. Given the complexity of provision, real value will be gained by bringing providers together to focus on government as a specific sector. We propose following the example of other Sector Skills Councils by setting up an HE/FE forum. Its aim would be to: • shape the development of future provision, by informing the providers about the skills needs of central government, based on the analysis of Government Skills, the professions and the business • help government understand the priorities and challenges that face providers in addressing our current and future skills needs • debate current and common issues of interest, for example, employer engagement, methods of delivery, work placement opportunities, and • communicate the strength and scope of employer demand in central government to influence provision design and decisions. In parallel, we will continue to develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders within HE and FE, including funding, regulatory and co-ordinating bodies both UK-wide and within the devolved administrations.

Creating the right mechanisms and environment to allow the government sector to work with and influence provision will not deliver the same short-term benefits as other elements of the strategy. However, in the longer term it is vital to set in train developments now that will allow the sector to meet not only current but future skills challenges.


Possible scope for action

Foundation Degrees

Consider the scope for increasing flexibility and combining modules to meet the needs of individual employers, or specific combinations of employers. For example, Foundation Degree Forward is currently in discussion with Government Communications Headquarters looking at modules that would meet their very specific telecommunications skills requirements. Examine the progression route from Foundation Degrees into higher level study relevant to central government. The Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence already link their foundation degree to a BA (Hons) degree and it will be useful to build on this experience. Examine scope for widening access to both current employees and pre-entry students. One provider, Chester, is already considering this for the Foundation Degree in Government.

Post-graduate study

While some employers, such as the Armed Forces, have established close links with institutions providing post-graduate qualifications, there is no consistency of approach across the sector. Decisions are often made at an individual or business unit level and there is no central information available on take-up, or analysis of the value in meeting business needs. We will review current provision including take-up, value and retention levels as a prior step to further engagement with HE institutions.


Possible scope for action

Vocational undergraduate degrees or equivalents

In addition to the highly successful Fast Stream programme, central government employs a large number of graduates across a wide range of disciplines and at all levels. Established professions such as economists and statisticians already have a clear undergraduate programme route, but there is currently no equivalent addressing skills needs for other areas, such as policy or operational delivery. While it is important not to develop any pre-conceived notions about the most suitable type of programme or qualification, we propose that the Employer Network

established to influence provision should work with the relevant Heads of Professions, and scope a proposal for developing a ‘vocational’ programme at the undergraduate or equivalent level, designed around the skills needs of central government employers. This would address student demand for employment-focused degree courses and create a more broadly based graduate entry cadre. It would be important to ensure that any such development would complement and not detract from the Fast Stream offer. Sandwich programmes Sandwich programmes combine academic study with practical work based experience. Recent research carried out by ASET, a professional body promoting work-based learning, found that sandwich course students were more likely to achieve a first or 2.1 than non-placement students, and were also more likely to find full-time work after graduation. Almost 70 per cent of students were offered permanent jobs by their placement employer after graduation. Employers consider these programmes a valuable recruitment channel. We will examine the benefits of offering work-placements to sandwich students and the practical difficulties and potential barriers to such an approach. One aspect of encouraging programmes with a significant work placement is the potential impact on diversity. The current Summer Placement Scheme, offered to potential Fast Stream candidates from under-represented groups, offers a point of comparison. Opportunities for work-based learning and employer engagement in the learning process. Explore with employers the opportunities based on the following models: Babcock Defence Services and Hartlepool College of Further Education have come together so students on the National Diploma in Aerospace Engineering can visit RAF Leeming each month to gain practical experience of operating and maintaining military aircraft. The experience is documented as part of their course. Leading employers in the IT field assist in the delivery of the IT Management for Business degree which combines business related content with academic learning. Employers provide experts to lead seminars and mentors for the students, as well as graduate and placement opportunities. Both employers and providers believe that this approach significantly improves the quality of learning.

Sector-wide application of the strategy The skills strategy will offer significant benefits across the whole of the sector. The sector is far from uniform, and in developing the strategy careful consideration has been given to ensuring it is relevant for different people in all parts of the sector, and it will have a positive impact throughout. We have carried out a diversity impact assessment, against the following criteria: • ethnicity • gender • disability • religion and belief • sexual orientation • age, and • social inclusion.

Overall, the impact of the current strategy is predicted to be positive, with women (particularly those in the older age groups) benefiting most from the action to deliver on the Skills Pledge. Working more closely with the tertiary sector will help develop stronger links with communities, assisting in developing a workforce more reflective of the entire population. A broad range of delivery mechanisms are being considered (eg, e-learning) which will assist employees requiring reasonable adjustment to learn and improve accessibility for those with caring responsibilities. It has been highlighted, as part of the assessment, that any initiative taken to encourage the uptake of qualifications should consider any potential barriers (eg, part time working arrangements, caring responsibilities) that may affect the pace individuals are able to obtain qualifications.

Case study: engaging with HE/FE providers
Successful collaborations with employers and HE/FE
The work of other Sector Skills Councils has demonstrated the value of engaging closely with employers and HE/FE to design programmes that respond to their specific needs. SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies in the UK) and e-skills UK have both developed Higher Apprenticeship Frameworks to build a progression path between apprenticeships and HE/FE. e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for IT and Telecoms, has worked closely with a group of leading employers to develop an undergraduate programme designed around common business needs. The employers defined their skills needs and produced clear learning/skills outcomes that enabled universities to successfully design a suitable programme. According to e-skills, an important part of the process was identifying a priority need, in this case, raising the business awareness and understanding of IT graduates, and then efforts could be made to address this need. The IT Management for Business Honours Programme was launched in 2005. SSCs including Skillset, Skillfast-UK and Creative & Cultural Skills, have worked with HE/FE to develop the Creative and Media Diploma. The diploma includes knowledge and functional skills, an extended project, and a requirement for A-levels, and is designed to lead on to sector-relevant courses at degree level. Skills for Justice held their first HE Forum in March 2007 bringing HE/FE providers together with employers as part of their sector-wide engagement, to promote relations and examine current issues. Demand outstripped capacity and more events are planned.

We have assessed the potential value of the skills strategy for non-departmental public bodies. NDPBs are dependent on professional and technical staff with specialised skills, and are relatively detached from central government departments. The recommendations of the skills strategy will be attractive to the sector, particularly the emphasis on devising professional standards and infrastructure, and developing opportunities for joint commissioning in common skills areas. The strategy has benefits and value for the Armed Services. The Services have their own approach to skills training, in which they invest very heavily, and a more heavily structured approach to managing individual skills and career development, so important elements of the case for change do not apply. Nevertheless, there are real benefits to the Services and Service personnel in the alignment, where appropriate, between civilian and military professional standards, as well as engagement in certain elements of common action on common skills needs.

Case study: career progression through retraining
Developing in-demand skills can transform a career
Ruth, 30, joined the Royal Engineers as an apprentice military engineer after leaving school aged 17 with six GCSEs. After completing her basic training she went on to complete her initial training as a military engineer. After nine years in the army, she took a career break to start a family. On return to the workforce, she opted to transfer to a part-time civilian role in the Ministry of Defence. Assigned to a defence procurement project, her line manager quickly recognised her strengths in leadership and people management and advised her to consider a new skills focus. After discussion with MOD skills champions, Ruth realised that the programme and project management (PPM) profession was likely to have a substantial long-term demand for advanced project management skills. A career in this area offered a potential fit with the work-life balance she wanted and geographic base requirements (Cheltenham). Ruth was advised to use the e-learning suite of PPM training offered by her local Defence Electronic Learning Centre, and progressed from a short project management course to a PRINCE2 qualification. Through an inter-departmental arrangement, she was able to join a specialist PPM course offered by an award-winning internal provider in her own town. She is currently considering broadening her experience through a secondment to BAE Systems.

Significant work has also been done to identify the value of the strategy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland is home to 9 per cent of the Civil Service workforce including over 20,000 employees of the Scottish Executive, its agencies and NDPBs. Common skills needs in Scotland are very similar to the rest of the UK, and there is both opportunity and enthusiasm for engaging with the planned programme of common action. Scotland is already well advanced down the road of using Skills for Success – Scotland’s PSG – to set skills standards for the whole workforce. Closer engagement with the HE/FE sector can help address Scottish employers’ concerns about pre-entry skills, and will need to be implemented in a way that embraces the distinctive Scottish system of education and qualifications. The strategy resonates strongly with existing developments within the government sector in Wales, where workforce segmentation is already relatively advanced and the PSG competency framework is embedded as the basis for skills development. Training provision in Wales is successfully sourced through a delivery partnership with a single contractor, offering valuable lessons in joint commissioning. In Northern Ireland there is a constitutionally separate Civil Service facing distinct issues in terms of geography, politics and public sector reform. So far, consultation in Northern Ireland has shown a considerable degree of interest in engaging with common approaches to common skills needs, as far as is practical, and in drawing on models and standards developed as a result of the skills strategy. Action plans showing how the skills strategy will be implemented in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are available on the Government Skills website at


Summary of

No Recommendation . Owner

Establish a framework of professional skills standards, mapped to Heads of Professions (with the PSG competency framework. This should cover all roles in the Government Skills) sector workforce, and be underpinned by National Occupational Standards and, where appropriate, qualifications, so that they are transferable to the wider labour market. Develop new standards and qualifications where needed, and prepare an analysis demonstrating how the skills in the profession in government relate to the skills used by the profession in the wider economy.


Segment the workforce in each profession and provide occupational Heads of Professions (with profiles for each of their distinct functions. Civil Service Capability Group)


Maintain labour market information on the profession, including trends in supply and demand within government and in the wider market.

Heads of Professions


Provide information, advice and guidance to individuals within each Heads of Professions profession on skills standards, skills development opportunities, and career progression.


Provide tools and guidance to managers in each profession to enable them to measure individuals’ professional competence, including recognition of prior and experiential learning.

Heads of Professions


Ensure professional standards and qualifications are integrated into HR Leaders departmental HR systems (recruitment, performance management, learning and development, pay, succession planning etc)

No Recommendation .



Allocate funds to invest in the infrastructure of professions so that they can all rise to the standards of the best within a realistic timetable.

Permanent Secretaries Management Group


Confirm the list of common skills needs where there are both skills Government Skills needs comparable across the sector, and opportunities to address them in common. Initiate an ongoing programme of research and consultation to assess future trends in skills requirements and skills gaps so as to keep this list refreshed and relevant.


Develop and deploy a range of models for common action in these common skills areas, drawing on current good practice, including: • opening up the Defence Academy e-learning offer to other government departments (OGDs) • • opening up DWP’s NVQ accreditation centre to OGDs, and piloting ITQ in DWP and HMRC.

HR leaders (with Government Skills)


Initiate and grow joint commissioning of new programmes to develop common skills, beginning with a pilot.

Government Skills


Undertake cross-sector training needs analysis in targeted common Government Skills skills areas so as to better understand common learning and development needs (linked to joint commissioning).


Develop a Learning and Development Framework Contract which can form the basis for subsequent development of delivery partnerships. (with Government Skills)


Launch a sector initiative to achieve a significant expansion in the number of apprentices in government, with a particular focus on adult apprenticeships.

Government Skills (with the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills/Learning and Skills Council).


Develop and launch an award, as part of the Civil Service Awards, to Government Skills reward internal training providers offering high-quality skills development programmes or services shared across the sector.

No Recommendation .



Create the necessary mechanisms for engagement with the HE and Government Skills FE sectors, working both with sector employers and with coordinating bodies and individual institutions.


Progress current work to develop sector tailored qualifications, such Government Skills as foundation degrees, the public sector diploma, and higher-level apprenticeships.


Explore new opportunities for engaging the potential workforce such Government Skills as sandwich programmes, short programmes, vocational courses or other forms of employer-student engagement.

Appendix 1: Implementation plan
Implementation plan

The charts on the following two pages depict draft implementation timetables for the skills strategy – the first is for 2008, and the second maps out the agenda from 2009 onwards. These timetables are currently undergoing further development now that the strategy has been approved by the Permanent Secretaries Management Group (PSMG).

It will be essential to make an early impact with the initiatives taken. By the end of May, individual departments should have completed their departmental skills strategies, setting out how they plan to take up the themes identified in the strategy. Common action on common skills needs offers the best opportunities for early results. We will put the foundations in place – through a pan-government framework contract and a pilot cross-sector training needs analysis – to enable a delivery partnership and a joint commissioning pilot to get underway in the autumn of 2008. Learning lessons from the pilot as it proceeds, we will begin to roll out this new joint commissioning process to all other agreed common skills priorities with a view to having a large-scale programme operating in the course of 2009. Other key initiatives here – the expansion of sector apprenticeships (including opening up the DWP NVQ accreditation centre), creating a skills award, piloting ITQ and opening up the MOD e-learning offer – will all be kicked off in the first half of 2008. Rapid action here is dependent on the availability of the right resources in Government Skills to ensure progress. It is vital to move swiftly to resource the professions, so that they can lay the groundwork in terms of segmentation, standards setting and workforce planning in 2008. This is critical as it will enable us to achieve maximum impact for the business and for members of the profession during 2009. Outcomes from work with the HE/FE sector will necessarily take longer to deliver, but quickly establishing the new forums should allow proposals to be brought to the table in time to make the first adjustments to existing programmes in the academic year starting in 2009. The first new modules and programmes will follow in the years after that. In parallel with the finalisation of the Implementation Plan, Government Skills will be developing an Evaluation Plan with the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, to allow robust reassessment of progress.

Appendix 2: Implementation costs
Implementation costs Recommendation Headcount Gross cost (£K) 08/09 09/10 10/11 SR07 total

Develop operational deliver profession

10 FTE





Develop policy delivery profession






Shared services for smaller professions






Support common action and commissioning






Support HE/FE network development






Support development of new role for professions






Contract support (e.g. TNA, measurement tools)







27 FTE





An indicative implementation budget is provided in the table above. Programme costs are not included, as the strategy will influence the deployment of funds already allocated to these cost areas. The costs of implementing the skills strategy are therefore primarily for its administration, arising principally from the need to invest in the infrastructure of the two big professions and from the additional project management and delivery work which will be needed at the centre to make common action a reality. The additional cost is estimated at between £4m and £5m over the SR07 period, and this will pay for 27 FTE and around £750,000 in contract costs.

Appendix 3:

Implications for Government Skills
Implications for Government skills

The launch of the Skills Strategy will have a very significant impact on Government Skills’ business priorities. This has been built into planning as far as possible since early 2007, when Government Skills developed the ‘oil drum’ conceptualisation of their future business focus. The diagram illustrates the expectation that the skills strategy will demand both development and management effort from Government Skills. It will give shape to the other major blocks of activity , as well as influencing other skills frameworks and the development and marketing of products and services. The Government Skills business plan for 2008-09 will be based on delivering its component of the skills strategy. It will be accountable for this to the Government Skills Strategy Board, to its sponsoring department and to the Commission for Employment and Skills. Guided by the strategy, Government Skills will seek to be:
• strategic in its vision across government and into the future • expert in skills, standards and qualifications, and • insightful in how it anticipates the needs of stakeholders.

In resource terms, steering the implementation of the skills strategy is likely to require one Band A and significant Senior Civil Service input, as well as making substantial demands on communications resources. These resources are already provided for, in the structure of the new Government Skills, launched on 12 November 2007. There will be additional new demands on Government Skills, in particular the staff time arising from the implementation of some of the individual recommendations in the strategy. The largest will be in the area of common action on common skills needs. This has been forecast in the implementation budget (Appendix B) at 5 FTE (2.5 Band A, 2.5 Band B) per annum. The majority of this effort will be new work in the commissioning area – managing training needs analyses in common skills areas, initiating and managing the development of statements of requirement, working with internal providers to identify and open up opportunities for common action, understanding the external market and scoping delivery partnerships, organising and managing contracts for common provision, etc. There will also be smaller packages of new work managing relationships with OGCbuying solutions, supporting the programme to increase apprenticeships, driving forward tactical recommendations within the skills strategy, and establishing a skills award.

In addition, the development of the active interface with HE and FE will require one Band A and one Band B FTE. It will also be necessary to stimulate and oversee the strengthening of the professions, including working together with the Civil Service Capability Group to ensure that all the professions share a common understanding of their new accountabilities. There will inevitably be a role to play, managing tension caused by the diversity of approach and standardisation of outcome. Working with the professions, to achieve the new streamlined approach, is likely to require at least one Band B FTE, some additional C2 administrative support, and some material SCS input.

Appendix 4: Glossary of terms
Glossary of terms CIO Chief Information Officer


Civil Service Steering Board


Further Education


Full-Time Equivalent


Government Skills


Higher Education


Higher Education Funding Council for England


Her Majesty’s


Information and Communications Technology


Information Technology Qualification


Learning and Development


Learning and Skills Council


National Audit Office


Non-Departmental Public Body


National Occupational Standards


National School for Government


National Vocational Qualification


Office of Government Commerce


Office of Government Commerce (Buying Solutions)


Other Government Departments


Professional Skills for Government


Permanent Secretaries Management Group


Return on Investment


Spending Review


Sector Skills Council


Training Needs Analysis