Commissioner’s opening remarks at official launch of the APS Academy
APS Academy launch
Speaker: Peter Woolcott AO – Public Service Commissioner
What: Official launch of the APS Academy
Date: 22 July 2021
Opening remarks, Peter Woolcott AO
Good afternoon and it’s a pleasure to be here.
And can I also echo Aunty Violet in acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet on today, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respect to elders past, present and emerging.
I would also like to add my welcome to you all. It’s good to see so many members of the Faculty here and so many members of the Learning Board, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
We have moved quickly in the last six months in setting up the Academy.
In reality, however, the reform journey that has led us to this point started well over a decade ago.
Back in 2010, the Moran report, which you’ll all remember – Ahead of the Game – highlighted the need to invest in the capability of the public service.
From this, the Centre for Leadership and Learning was established to assist with shaping and enhancing the capability of the APS workforce.
It did a good job. A recent review of the Centre emphasised the quality of its offerings, particularly around leadership.
Building on the strong foundations laid by the Moran report, the Thodey Review of 2019 examined APS capability from a number of angles.
Its final report commented on the widespread availability of quality training and professional development for APS employees, including through the Centre for Leadership and Learning.
However, Thodey’s report also observed that there was a lack of guidance on ‘what is essential or core to being a great public servant’.
In addition he called out the need for a more concentrated approach to learning and development.
Thodey went on to recommend development of an APS-wide workforce strategy, a Learning and Development strategy and an APS Professions model.
These recommendations were subsequently endorsed by the Government.
The Workforce Strategy was launched 3 months ago and is now in implementation phase.
The APS Professions were launched in October 2019 with the establishment of a HR Professional Stream, followed by Digital and Data professions last year – and good to see the Heads of Professions here also today.
And I’m pleased to announce the release earlier this week of the first ever APS Learning and Development Strategy and Action Plan.
The L&D Strategy outlines four clear areas of focus: Governance, Capability, Technology and Culture.
The Action Plan sets out the practical steps to implement the Strategy over a five year horizon.
A priority in achieving the vision of the L&D Strategy is the establishment of the first ever APS Learning Board, and our emphasis very much on partnerships and one APS.
The Learning Board will create partnerships and efficiencies in L&D across the APS, by driving greater cooperation, coordination and collaboration.
In doing so, it will directly address the ‘fragmented approach’ to APS learning and development that was highlighted by the Thodey Review.
The membership of the Learning Board, which I announced earlier today will consist of six senior APS Chief Operating Officers and four externals.
It will also work closely with the existing professional streams, to ensure that we continue to develop capability across the service in these critical areas.
In tangible terms, the Academy will enable all APS employees to access consistent, high quality learning and development options, whatever their role and wherever they are located.
And they will be able to customise their learning journey, with a broad range of learning approaches on offer: experiential learning, on-the-job training, mobility and secondments, as well as intensive face-to-face courses.
Now, more than ever, Australia needs a Public Service that is highly capable, outward facing, well connected, and more mobile.
The Academy will embody these themes through its focus on practitioner-led development, its partnership model, its close connection with the professional streams, and its reach across the breadth of the APS workforce.
In concluding I want to thank Phil Gaetjens and the Secretary’s Board for the way they’ve helped drive this new approach.
The establishment of the Academy represents a fundamental shift in how we will build APS capability now and well into the future.
It is therefore fitting that we have a renowned futurist, technologist and anthropologist, Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell here, with us today, who will deliver our keynote address.
Distinguished Professor Bell is currently the Director of the School of Cybernetics and 3A Institute at the Australian National University, as well as being a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Intel.
So over to you, Genevieve.