Digital Services Being Held Back By Lack Of Skills

Efforts to roll out digital public services are being held back by a lack of skills and funding in the public sector, according to a report.

Business advisors Deloitte surveyed more than 400 public service leaders across Northern Ireland and Britain.

It asked senior staff across central and local government, the NHS, police and further and higher education on how their organisations were moving toward digital services.

And despite the vast majority – 86 per cent – saying it was essential to success, just 12 per cent said say they were actively involving and consulting citizens in the design of digital services.

Meanwhile, just half said they had the ability within their organisations to capture the general public’s views and preferences.

Most respondents – 89 per cent – said their organisation was pursuing digital services to cut costs. However, just 32 per cent said that funding for the shift to digital within their organisations had increased and 28 per cent had the right level of resources available to bring in expertise.

Only a quarter said their organisation had sufficient skills within its workforce to execute their digital plans and one-third said their organisation’s leaders had the right level of digital skills.

Overall, just one-third had confidence that their organisation was well-placed to respond to digital trends.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent said procurement rules hinder their ability to source digital services, despite 74 per cent of respondents saying that they rely on outsourced expertise.

Dr Danny McConnell, technology partner at Deloitte, said: “In terms of efficiency and money saved, there is a great deal to gain from digital public services. Citizens are accustomed to excellent digital services in other areas of their lives and do not accept that government is immune from this. Our survey finds a disconnect between those designing digital public service and those that will use them.

“It is clear from our survey of local Northern Ireland public sector organisations that there is an appetite to deliver high quality digital services to our citizens, but challenges exist around culture, skills, governance and leadership.

“By embracing digital, public sector organisations in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to transform public services while delivering increased efficiency and an enhanced citizen experience.”