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The rapid rate of change in politics around the world means that it has never been more important for civil servants to ensure that the skills they need to perform their roles effectively are up-to-date and up-to-scratch. 

But is the way government employees learn as good as it could be? And if not, is it time for governments to rethink their approach to learning and development to ensure that learning opportunities keep up with those of the private sector? 

With local and central governments under the microscope to manage public spending efficiently while also under pressure to optimise outcomes from their policy initiatives, how do learning professionals strike this delicate balance and ensure that government employees get all the support they need to perform their roles to the best of their ability?

The situation governments today face 

The issues governments worldwide face aren’t only political - they are also rooted in the composition of their own organisations. For instance, one in four workers in the US will be aged 55 or older by 2024 - up from just one in ten in 1994. This is coupled with the fact that some jobs are disappearing due to improving technology and automation - in fact, 38% of organisations expect to eliminate certain jobs due to automation in the next few years - but many more are being transformed. With both an aging workforce and pressures from technology, it is vital that employees in the notoriously slow-moving, bureaucratic public sector have the power to keep up in a rapidly changing world.

Overcoming bureaucracy to show the value of workplace training 

Bureaucracy and red tape will always be an issue for government employees - there are strict protocols for the way things happen, whether that’s the structure of training programmes, securing budgets for skill-enhancing courses or simply getting approval from managers way up in the complex hierarchical structure to take the time to train. Overcoming the bureaucracy of working in government is no mean feat, but it is important to make the powers that be understand the true value of workplace training and the potential consequences for failing to keep up.

For instance, in the US, the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy offers federal employees the opportunity to undertake hands-on training in cybersecurity. This forms part of a commitment to developing a 21st-century workforce, demonstrating that the US Administration has identified a need for cybersecurity skills in the future. It’s not an easy task to convince a government to change the way they do things, but helping them see the benefit of updating their training provisions is the first step to enacting change.

How to reskill government employees quickly and on a budget

No government has a bottomless pit of money for training its employees, and with governments needing to remain accountable for their spending, it’s important that they can deliver effective training programmes on a relatively limited budget. So what’s the answer? Fortunately, many of the skills that could help government employees are not specific to government organisations and roles. For instance, bias and discrimination training, leadership development and cybersecurity training, much like the US programme mentioned above, is already widely available. Totara content partner GO1 provides a catalogue of learning content across sectors, with content tailored to the government sector to provide new training opportunities at great value for money. The fact that the content already exists means that it can be imported into a government organisation’s learning platform almost instantly, giving employees the ability to upskill and reskill at a much lower cost than creating the training from scratch.

Choosing the right platform for government training

Training for rapid upskilling and reskilling should be quick and easy to implement. This means finding a flexible, cost-effective and scalable learning platform that will grow and mould around any government organisation’s evolving needs. For instance, it shouldn’t take months to expand the scope of the platform to include another department, or to upload new courses if a new priority arises. Totara Learn is used by governments worldwide to manage, deliver and track learning. Features such as learning plans help keep government employees moving towards their learning goals, as the US Department of Agriculture discovered when they implemented Totara Learn with GP Strategies. Functionality such as audiences and hierarchies also allows organisations to reflect complex structures and management lines to ensure that all learning is managed efficiently. GO1’s learning content library also plugs directly into Totara Learn for a seamless learner experience, meaning that government employees can load content from the course catalogue from within the learning platform. 

Discover how you can reskill government employees at ATD ICE 2019 

If you’re heading to the ATD International Conference and Exposition 2019 in Washington, DC, be sure to visit the Totara Village at stand 1019, where GO1 and other Totara Partners will be available to discuss your governmental learning requirements, and redeem a voucher for $3000 USD of GO1's Premium Content with a new Totara Learn subscription. 

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