Voices from Accenture Public Service


In a recent blog, I wrote about the new human+ workforce in which people are blending their own knowledge with new technological capabilities to perform their roles more effectively than ever before. It’s an exciting time as this new workforce is more agile and fluid, marking a new era in public service.

Employee velocity is high. People are in changing roles that require constantly shifting skills needs. We know the public service workforce brings tremendous legacy knowledge, but as the world—and the workplace—evolves, is that enough?

Our research finds that training and continuous learning are more important than ever. Seventy-eight percent of public service leaders agree that increasing employee velocity has expanded the need for reskilling in their organisation.[1]

Investing in the future

To lead in the human+ era, companies must invest in their workforces through learning and reskilling strategies that prepare employees for their new, changing roles. Technologies such as extended reality (XR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are creating new opportunities for government, such as delivering new levels of personalisation in citizen services and equipping workers to do their jobs better.

For instance, in the social services realm, we’re helping caseworkers to refine their skills and become more alert and cognizant of the signals and safety indicators they observe. The Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS) uses immersive storytelling and interactive voice-based scenarios to completely transform how caseworkers hone their data-gathering and decision-making skills. Using AVEnueS for caseworker training is only the beginning. Teachers, police officers, family counselors and any professionals with direct contact with citizens and a responsibility to understand and impact human behaviour can benefit from this type of XR experience.

Digital reigns supreme

There is no denying that digital skills are essential for the human+ worker. Public service agencies can boost digital skills and capabilities by improving access, training and confidence. Some may consider partnering with others in the ecosystem—such as businesses, NGOs and education providers—to help address the digital skills gap.

Lifelong learning opportunities will help to ensure that employees maintain digital skills as technology evolves. When agencies have tools to predict future skills demands, they can identify early where training can benefit an individual employee.

Right now, government is lagging behind the private sector. When asked, “What are the most important initiatives your organisation is currently undertaking to prepare your workforce to work more effectively with intelligent technologies and machines?” 15% of chief state administrators said conducting advanced workforce planning taking into account future skills needs, as compared to 19% in the private sector. And only 8% are partnering with other players in the ecosystem (training providers, academic institutes, etc.) to offer more comprehensive training programmes, compared to 17% in the private sector.

Ready for the future

We know that technology is evolving all the time, and so must employees. Luckily technology advancements bring about new innovations that make it easier to support lifelong learning in the public service workforce. For instance:

  • Machine learning can help agencies to build a living and learning “brain” that can understand the rich context of an individual’s career and help provide recommendations for navigating career choices and re- or up-skilling.
  • As AI becomes more sophisticated, it can be even more proactive in identifying skills needed in the future so the agency can prepare before feeling the pinch of a skills shortage.
  • Analytics can help to measure workforce outcomes so agencies can more clearly understand which talent investments are failing, and which need even greater support because they are delivering outcomes.

In our personal lives, we never stop learning. Every day offers a chance to expand our thought processes, our knowledge about the topics we’re interested in and our ability to make a difference in the world. The public service workforce is no different. Unlock the lifelong learning opportunity for employees. In the end, it will benefit the workforce and the agency itself.

Lifelong learning is one of three key pillars to achieving and sustaining a workforce of human+ workers. Find out more about the other two, here.


[1] Accenture Tech Vision Research 2019

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