A new report* on public sector skills, Embrace flexibilitypublished in partnership with Public Sector Executive, highlights a desire for more flexibility and learning and development opportunities in one of the largest recent surveys of UK public sector employees.
According to this report from four countries, adapting to a flexible hybrid working model is key for staff retention in the public sector, indicating that the effect of the pandemic on working methods is here to stay.
It revealed that three-quarters (73%) of public sector employees say they are more likely to stay in a job that allows remote or hybrid work options.
Public sector workers also highlighted the importance of learning and development opportunities. The new survey found that of more than 2,500 respondents, 8 in 10 public sector employees cite learning and development as key to job satisfaction in the public sector.
However, the lack of flexibility hampers training, as almost a third (29%) of respondents cite the lack of flexible working hours as a factor preventing public sector employees from participating in training opportunities.
A desire for flexibility is even carried over to learning, with blended learning proving to be the preferred learning style at 55% and distance learning at 25%.
Balvinder Johal, Sector Business Development Manager, The Open University, said: “The public sector has always been at the forefront of change in the workplace. From flexible working, to crèches, via job sharing, many employees have been able to build lasting careers and achieve their ambitions around their personal responsibilities.
“But two years ago, the UK business landscape was forced to adapt to the pandemic, and this has led to a rapid acceleration of this change, with employers and public sector employees still trying to understand what the increase in hybrid and flexible working means in the future.
“Our survey reflects the desire for flexible learning, blended models and remote working, suggesting they’re in it for the long haul in many roles, but employees still want to engage in learning and development. to reach their full potential.
“This report describes the challenge for public sector leaders and L&D teams. The future will demand more choice, better awareness and an overhaul of the way learning is delivered in the workplace. »
The report further demonstrates a lack of awareness of training among employees, with more than one in four respondents (27%) feeling unsure about the training available for their job and almost one in five (17%) did not know what training formats were offered.
This highlights a missed opportunity for employers, suggesting that public sector organizations need to communicate more clearly to remote and hybrid workers about training offerings to drive retention.
Public sector employees also expressed a desire to improve their technology and leadership skills. The combination of digital services and remote work makes technology skills essential.
The report suggests that more than a third (35%) of UK public sector employees would like to improve their digital skills. Leadership and management training proved to be the most popular area of learning in this survey, favored by 29% of public sector employees overall and reaching 48% in Wales, 48% in Scotland and 54% in Northern Ireland.
A better understanding of diversity and inclusion was also expressed, with 29% of senior executives and directors saying it was important to know more about diversity and inclusion compared to other groups.