Capabilities for the future world of work
The pandemic response has shone a spotlight on the work and worth of public servants. The crisis thus presents a new opportunity to reinforce the attractiveness of the public service as a career of choice for a new generation of skilled workers who are motivated by public values.67
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The nature of work in the public service is evolving, with digital transformation and community expectations about responsiveness, agility and integration of the public services impacting future workforce needs. Strong expertise in traditional public service capabilities, such as policy analysis and implementation of services, must be complemented by emerging technical skills. The pandemic has highlighted capability gaps in public sectors globally, chief among them a lack of expertise in data and digital, reinforcing the need for change.68
Public service craft
Successive reviews of the APS have concluded that capability development is the most fundamental requirement for improving the public service performance and delivering better outcomes.69 70 The new APS Academy, launched in July 2021, focuses on development of APS ‘craft’ capabilities unique to the APS. While there is great diversity of roles and functions across the service, these foundational capabilities are the skills that every employee requires for the APS to work effectively as one institution and deliver for the Australian people. Invoking the language of ‘craft’ reflects a professional public service identity, and a journey from apprenticeship to mastery as a repertoire of core public service skills are developed and refined during an APS career.
The APS Academy Faculty, with representation and experience from across the service, will provide the Academy with APS craft subject matter expertise, ensuring APS craft offerings are aligned to best practice and environmental context.
Figure 2.3: APS craft
The integrity craft aims to embed a pro-integrity culture in the APS. Central to building a high-performing and trusted public service, the practice of integrity goes above and beyond an understanding of the ‘rules’ of working in the APS. It drives a culture that addresses ethical challenges and concerns in the pursuit of excellence. This craft will help equip the APS with the capability to make sound decisions and offer ‘frank and fearless’ advice at every level.
The work of the APS relies on building effective engagement and partnerships with stakeholders to harness their collective knowledge, professionalism and expertise. The engagement and partnership craft will equip APS employees with skills to foster networks and collaborate with individuals, communities, businesses and all levels of government.
APS employees will develop expertise in implementing government policy and services, including identifying and managing risk, exploring and prototyping solutions and measuring impact through the implementation and services craft. The craft aims to instill the knowledge and skills to identify, implement and deliver services that meet the needs of Australians.
The strategy, policy and evaluation craft combines learning across three critical capabilities—strategic thinking which sets the direction of the policy, policy design which informs the delivery of services and implementation, and evaluation which tests outcomes throughout the policy design process. This craft will provide the tools and understanding to enable APS employees to deliver great policy advice.
The leadership and management craft will support leaders to continuously develop their capabilities to effectively respond to emerging challenges and to inspire a sense of purpose and a culture of high performance across the APS. Ethical leadership, supporting wellbeing, valuing diversity and inclusion, skillfully influencing stakeholders and providing rigorous advice will all be themes explored under this craft.
The working in government craft provides APS employees with an understanding of Australia’s system of government and how to work effectively within it. This includes the technical and procedural aspects of government as well as the capabilities of responsiveness, adaptability, and agility which ensure excellence in providing advice to the government of the day. An important element of this craft is working with Ministers and their offices.
67OECD. (2020). Public servants and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: Emerging responses and initial recommendations. 27 April.
68OECD. (2020). The Covid-19 crisis: A catalyst for government transformation?. 10 November.
69Commonwealth of Australia. (2019). Our Public Service, Our Future. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service. 13 December.
70Commonwealth of Australia. (2010). Ahead of the game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration. 2 March.