Public employment and management

Skills and capacity


Citizens across OECD countries live longer, healthier, and more productive lives thanks in large part to the often hidden efforts of civil servants. These civil servants, guided by values centred on the public interest, have been central to the provision of public services that underpin the prosperity and resilience of modern developed economies. Today, however, there is concern that the skill sets commonly found in the civil service may no longer be keeping up with the fast pace of change in the societies they aim to support and improve.  


OECD report on skills and capacity

The OECD is currently working with member countries to develop a report which considers the skills implied by the four channels through which civil servants create public value. These channels are: 


    • Policy development in the political sphere
    • Service delivery directly to and with citizens
    • Commissioned delivery through contracted suppliers
    • Delivery through collaborative partnerships and networks  

Each channel may suggest different, although complementary and overlapping bundles of skills:

Policy advisory skills

Leveraging technology and synthesising a growing range of evidence based scientific insights (e.g. behavioural economics, data science, strategic foresight) and a diversity of citizen perspectives for effective and timely policy advice to political decision makers.

Engagement skills Working directly with citizens and users of government services to leverage the “wisdom of the crowd” and co-create better services and service experiences.

Commissioning skills Designing and overseeing various contractual arrangements (outsourcing, PPPs, service level agreements, etc.) to achieve impact through organisations (public, private, not-for-profit) that are best placed to deliver services due to their expertise and/or local position.

Network management skills Collaborating with a range of independent partners to address complex/wicked policy challenges by developing a shared understanding of the problem, collectively identifying potential solutions and co-implementation.  If money and legal contracts are the currency of supplier management, communication trust and mutual commitment is the currency of network management.  





New skills publication

Innovation skills framework and progress

Through a funding agreement with the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, the OECD is investigating the skills and capabilities required for public sector innovation. This work has three different areas of focus: the skills and capabilities of individuals to innovate; the organisational culture needed to support public sector innovation; and, how to 'teach' and 'learn' innovation skills, capability and culture. This partnership between the Observatory for Public Sector Innovation and the Public Employment and Management Working Party will provide member countries with analysis and tools that can help raise levels of innovative capacity of civil servants in member countries.



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