A strategic partnership, which will significantly contribute to the growing body of empirical evidence on the skills needs for the future in the public service space, was officially unveiled in Pretoria on Friday.
Speaking at the launch, Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi said the DPSA fully support the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) partnership on the Future of Work in the public service space.
The PSETA is partnering with the TUT as a Research partner to provide research services in the public service sector and skills development related studies in response to the sector mandate and support to the SETA in the fulfilment of its research mandate and agenda.
This partnership between PSETA and TUT will be managed and coordinated by the Institute for Future of Work (IFoW) as the key access point to the competence and capacity within TUT.
The two streams are:
- Future skills and competencies for the model public servant in the South African public service sector; and
- Analysis of baseline ICT skills of public servants and an investigation of future ICT skills needs.
“Skills planning in the public service sector provides the strategic direction needed to guide the development of human capital that is required by the state to deliver on its developmental goals and objectives.
“Given the nuances of the public service sector labour market, research into specific areas within human resource development must be prioritised.
“Equally, investigating and establishing standards for capacity building and associated areas is key.
“Research in this focus area will also seek to build an understanding of the drivers and challenges impacting and informing the occupations and skills demand in the public service sector in relation to new policy directions and priorities initiated by and/or associated with the sector in delivering and achieving the goals of the NDP (National Development Plan),” he said.
Research Stream 1: Future skills and competencies in the South African public service sector
- The Research Leader under this stream of work is Prof Mashupye Hebert Maserumule of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).
- This stream seeks to establish the skills and competencies of the model future public servant for the public service sector in South Africa within the context of the 4IR and other related developments that will contribute to the institutionalisation of the capability of the state.
TUT has established the Institute for the future of work to respond to the global impact of technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the internet of things.
According to Minister Nxesi, this implies that public servants require digital skills to be able to carry out their work within this environment.
However, he said the skills required by public servants go beyond just digital literacy to include political-administrative, economic, cultural, and environmental competencies.
“The importance of an appropriately skilled public service as a critical ingredient for a capable state cannot be overemphasized.
“This research project is aimed at investigating the future skills needs of the South African public service to develop a cadre of public servants required for South Africa’s public service sector in order to realise the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP), related to building a capable and developmental state,” he said.
The project objectives can be summarised as follows:
- To establish the state of literature on the 4IR and its implications on the administration of the state, and to review existing literature on the future skills and competencies of public servants and its implications for the institutionalisation of the capability of the state.
- To ascertain how governments elsewhere in the world, from a skills perspective, have responded to the 4IR and other developments that have had a significant impact on operations in the public sector and institutionalisation of the capability of the state.
- To generate an understanding of the skills set and competencies required by public servants in South Africa within the context of the 4IR and other related developments.
- To develop a compendium of skills and competencies for the model future public servant in the age of 4IR, from both the international experience and experiences of public servants in South Africa.
- To provide a framework or roadmap that will provide strategic insight into the necessary capacity development and training interventions to develop a cadre of skilled and competent public servants that will institutionalise the capability of the state.
Research Stream 2: Analysis of baseline ICT skills of public servants and an investigation of future ICT skills needs
The Research leader under this stream of work is Dr Agnieta Pretorius of TUT. This project is aimed at understanding the ICT Skills in the South African public service sector.
It is necessary to explore the appropriate technologies on one hand, and on the other hand, to engage leaders to inform interventions that will ensure a relevant and capable public servant in the era of 4IR and other changes to come.
The project seeks to investigate the challenges facing a capable public service by researching the key gaps in information and communications technology (“ICT”) skills of public servants working in ICT in the public sector.
The project objectives are to investigate the future ICT skills needs of public servants working in ICT in the South African public service sector, and to analyse and provide recommendations on the skills development and training interventions on the baseline of ICT skills of public servants working in ICT in the South African public service sector.
DPSA’s Acting Deputy Director-General Human Resources Management and Development, Mr Nyiko Mabunda who spoke on behalf of Director-General Makhasi, said: “for the public sector, it is no longer about where employees work, but how the work is done and the technology used. That is what we call the future of work in the public service.
“To rebuild the capacity of government to perform optimally and deliver on its mandate in a manner that is effective, efficient, and responsive.
“We need innovations that have less red tape, agile institutions that are able to respond timely and impactful, and departments that promote entrepreneurship than bureaucratic responses. It is for this reason that this partnership must succeed.”