Digital Transformation Fund – Digital Skills Shortage Project
Blog written by contractor Ed Crowley, User Researcher.
We’ve just completed an eight week discovery in collaboration with four Local authorities. These were the Vale of Glamorgan, Wrexham, Bridgend and Carmarthenshire. The discovery was funded through the Local Government Digital Transformation Fund, which is administered by the WLGA Digital team.
Welsh local authorities currently face big challenges in recruiting and retaining staff with digital skills. This has an impact on their ability to deliver services for residents.
We wanted to understand:
What is causing the recruitment and retention challenges?
What is the impact on councils and digital public services?
Is collaboration a potential solution to these challenges?
What are the barriers to collaboration?
Who we spoke to:
We spoke to thirty eight people across the four councils, as well as people with the WLGA, CDPS and other councils. This included people involved in digital and other areas of the councils. This meant we were able to see what the impact was on the council as a whole, not just the digital teams.
We also spoke to some councillors to understand what they thought about sharing and collaboration.
What we found out:
The key reason councils struggle to recruit people is they are not able to match salaries available elsewhere. This was both in the private sector, but also in other public sector organisations such as health.
Complicated role descriptions and clunky application processes also made it hard for people to apply compared to other organisations.
Recruitment materials could do more to highlight the benefits of working in councils.
Once in the local authorities, staff struggled with the lack of career progression.
This has a significant impact on both the speed and effectiveness of digital delivery in the participating councils. This results in a worse experience for residents and higher costs for the council.
We found that sharing of knowledge around skills and processes is already happening, and there is appetite for more, both within and between councils.
There is also appetite for sharing staff. The key barriers here are due to a lack of staff to share as well as practical questions around time and budgets.
The four councils are keen to continue working together and build on the collaboration that has started as part of the project. We are keen to hear from other councils if they have faced similar challenges and if they are interested in collaborating on upcoming pieces of work around them.
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