Networked model to build APS capability
Developing the capability of the APS is a complex endeavour. Uplifting capability across the entire APS requires both central coordination and agency intervention. This is not without challenges. The Thodey Review found that a ‘fragmented approach to learning and development’ was hampering the performance of the APS. The review specifically identified the need for ‘a system-wide understanding of what development is needed, what is available and what works’.24
A September 2020 survey identified that a group of 60 APS agencies offered employees learning and development addressing a common set of topics including management, leadership and communication.25 Despite these common topic areas, only 25% of responding agencies made their internally-developed learning resources available to the broader APS.
Learning and development is a shared responsibility between portfolio and agency heads, learning and development teams and providers, managers, and every APS employee.26
The release of the APS Learning and Development Strategy27 and Action Plan,28 the launch of the APS Academy in July 2021, and the continuing development of the APS professions, represent a fundamental shift in how the service works together to build capability. These initiatives aim to reduce duplication across the APS and encourage a culture of continuous individual and organisational investment in learning. The action plan focuses on leveraging good practice across the APS, sharing learning resources and partnering to ensure staff have access to the right development at the right time, whatever their role and wherever they are located.
Figure 1.2: Targeting capability development in the APS
The APS Academy was established to help employees develop the APS ‘craft’ capabilities that are unique and fundamental to the role of a public servant. The APS Academy emphasises the importance of a broad suite of learning methods, which extend learning beyond formal training and development to learning that occurs more frequently in and through work, and by connecting with other people and resources. These methods build capability continually and enable the workforce to learn and adapt at the speed of change.
Through a networked model, partnering with APS agencies and external partners, the APS Academy is designed to connect employees with the contemporary public sector knowledge, resources and experience.29 An APS Academy Faculty, comprising current and ex-serving senior members of the APS, has been established to guide, influence and contribute to the design and delivery of initiatives that build APS craft capabilities.
The APS Learning Board, formed in August 2021 as a sub-committee of the COO Committee, will provide direction to the APS Academy to deliver a united approach to building capability. The Learning Board and Academy work closely with the existing professional streams and the Heads of Profession in Data, Digital, and Human Resources, to continue to develop APS capability in these critical areas.
24 Commonwealth of Australia. (2019). Our Public Service, Our Future. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service. 13 December.
25 2020 APS Learning and Development Survey.
26 APSC. (2021). Highly Capable, Future-Ready: APS Learning and Development Strategy. 20 July.
28 APSC. (2021). Highly Capable, Future Ready: APS Learning and Development Action Plan. 20 July.
29 In 2021, the APS Academy is partnering with the IPAA and ANZSOG.