The APS needs a new refreshed approach and model for articulating the capabilities (skills, knowledge and attributes) needed to deliver for the community into the future. As we look to the future, we know the APS workforce will look different to the workforce of today. Advancements in digital delivery, automation and artificial intelligence will significantly change the nature of some current work. There will be smaller numbers doing more complex work with increased whole of government and whole of client approaches. Improving Australia’s experience with our government services must be at the heart of everything we do in the ‘public service’. To ensure the APS delivers, there is a critical need to better match our skills and capabilities with the changing work and labour market and consider wider skill-portability across agencies. The skills and capabilities needed for the future of work, necessitate a robust capability framework that constantly evolves to address needs. Current APS-wide capability approaches rely on the outdated Integrated Leadership System (ILS) and each agency independently determining and managing their own specific requirements beyond the ILS. Large elements of the ILS or other agency’s core and specialist skills frameworks are no longer contemporary or as future-focused as they need to be. Contemporary omissions include digital and data literacy, innovation, dealing with change, analytic and critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and so on. Large agencies are already embarking on significant capability refresh pieces to better position themselves for the future. However, these disparate approaches need to more connected, linked and united – possibly through increased APSC stewardship, leadership and governance to deliver greater APS-wide integration/innovation. The progression of a new future-oriented skills (capability) framework for the APS is an essential early priority to reshape the APS. The ATO embarked on a capability framework refresh a few years ago and is keen to work with other agencies and the APSC to develop a future-focused framework for the APS. We are happy to share our refreshed framework and approaches as a stepping stone towards whole-of-APS innovations in this space.
In addition, over previous years, the ATO introduced a “professional streams” approach to complement the existing use of our Job Family Architecture. This approach, similar to the UK's Professional Stream model, broadened the agency's organisational view of capability, highlighted the importance of each discrete profession, the depth and breadth of capability required and acted as a means to drive people system approaches for given streams such as current and future job design, recruitment, workforce planning, technology requirements, location strategy, career pathways and learning and professional development. Professional stream leads/owners provided strategic input into capability needs and created a holistic approach to workforce development to assure expertise across the spectrum of professions. Consideration by the APS for exploring something similar is a great step.