Increased IT skills in government will help improve public services

Technology investment and staff training will enable local authorities to ‘do more with less’ 
Three quarters of local government authorities (75 per cent) have embraced technology to transform their services, according to new research from BT. However, these organisations must now address IT skills gaps in order to increase efficiency and maximise the benefits from these investments. 

BT’s new white paper, Public Services: Delivering the Next Generation of Change, asked almost 400 local government officials how technology, skills and collaboration can be used to power public services successfully. 

With 87 per cent identifying efficiency savings as the highest priority within their organisations, it is clear that government authorities are feeling the pressure to meet budget cuts and ‘do more with less’. 

However, only 25 per cent felt that investing in people was a high priority for their organisation. The research also reveals significant gaps between the skills that organisations need to improve the delivery of public services and the extent that these skills currently exist in their organisations. 

For example, 41 per cent of those surveyed felt that IT literacy for all staff was very important, but only 7 per cent strongly agreed that the skills currently existed at a sufficient level in their organisation. Similarly, 87 per cent of respondents recognised a culture of innovation as important. Yet surprisingly, almost half (49 per cent) felt that they did not have such a culture within their organisation. 

Respondents identified collaboration (94 per cent) and mobile working (86 per cent) as key for improving the delivery of public services in the future, both areas that would require high levels of IT literacy and innovation to ensure efficient implementation. 

Ian Dalton, president, Global Government and Health, BT Global Services, said: “It’s encouraging to see that three quarters of public sector organisations have already embraced technology to help transform their services. Technology alone can’t continue to sustain the public sector mantra of ‘do more with less’. We need to be more creative, using solutions such as mobile working and collaboration technologies to transform how public services are delivered. 

“However, it’s clear from this research that public sector investment should be balanced across both technology and people, particularly investing in skills such as IT literacy. Many digital inclusion and IT skills training programmes exist, but focus on citizens, not on the development of employees. Improving these areas will help ensure organisations have the abilities required to work efficiently with new technology and continue to improve and streamline the delivery of public services.” 

Further insights from this survey are detailed in BT’s white paper, Public services: delivering the next generation of change, which is available to download from the BT website: http://www.globalservices.bt.com/uk/en/industries/powering_public_services/next-generation-public-services 


About Dods Research 
This white paper was produced in association with Dods Research, who conducted the fieldwork between 12 and 23 May 2014, 
Dods Research is a part of Dods Parliamentary Communication Ltd., publishers of The House magazine, Civil Service World and Dods Parliamentary Companion, and provides public sector and political research services. 
For more information, visit www.dods.co.uk