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Action is needed now!

Monday, December 1, 2008

“Now is the right time to initiate long term changes in the government sector’s approach to the skills of its own people.”

These words will be familiar to many as the crux of the findings of the Skills Strategy for Central Government 2008.

It has long been recognised that there is an emerging skills gap in the public sector and the Government Skills department has recently called for steps to be taken to address this growing problem. As this deficit ultimately impacts on the quality and delivery of services to the public, it is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by government organisations today.

But knowing where to start the reassessment can be the difficult, especially to do so from within.

Leadership The public sector is no different to its privately run counterpart in that much of its success inevitably comes from its leadership and management. Clearly, effective leadership skills are fundamental to the organisation if it is going to be successful long term.

It’s not unusual for the public sector to develop and deliver this training ‘in-house’, but is that short-sighted in today’s changing environment? Would benefits be gained from looking and thinking ‘outside the box’ and understanding the huge advances in leadership skills training that has been proven in the private sector?

Business Development Director, Carole Stevenson, from training specialists Cybèle says “undoubtedly yes”.

“Some may think ‘well I would say that wouldn’t I’. But it’s a fact that a fresh pair of eyes sees most organisations hugely differently to those running them. And the benefit of outside help is a completely focused, unbiased strategy and refreshed training approach that can still be delivered in-house.”

Talent Management Many successful organisations have deliberate policies and practices for sourcing, attracting, selecting, training, developing and retaining talent vital for their business needs. It forms a complex process involving skills, knowledge, ability and potential coupled with values and work preferences to identify what talent means and how it benefits the business they are operating.

Findings from the CIPD cite the ability of the private sector to recruit for all levels appears to be much stronger than the public sector, especially so in attracting specialists and middle managers. So is the public sector rising to this challenge?

A clear strategy using competency frameworks, assessments, coaching, use of development centres and career planning are the nub of talent management that should be transferred into the public sector. Perhaps it’s early days, but unless this key tool is viewed seriously and implemented vigilantly then the future may not be so bright.

Customer services Good customer service can be where the public sector falls short and improving levels of service such that each customer feels they are treated as an individual with unique needs, rather than just being processed through a system, is a challenge.

If this training is delivered in-house, the test is to make improvements on all points, from understanding how to communicate confidently and effectively with customers who have a complaint or concern, to identifying the transition and key skills, knowledge and attitude required to move the complaint to an opportunity. Is this really what current training programmes are delivering? And how measured are they?

Ask for help External training providers should be seen as an ally, not a threat, in these changing times. No-one knows everything, but the combination of internal and external skills coming together must be the way forward for the public sector to advance in the way it is being challenged to do so.

Cybèle offer a consultancy service to help restructure in-house training programmes or they are training providers, particularly for training such as Neuro Linguistic Programming and Emotional Intelligence.

What makes Cybele different? “We insist on our clients putting measurable objectives in place and matching our performance against them regularly”, Carole added.

“With over 50 years combined experience, we have successfully delivered strategic support for all training requirements, including innovation and talent management. Whilst our business is professional, skilled and commercially experienced, we do focus on fun, making training different and becoming a valued part of your team.”

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