What skills are needed for a digitally-enabled future in public safety


Technological advancements have great potential for positive transformation of the services that we, the public, rely on to keep us safe. Digital transformation shows great potential to enhance Public Safety, Staff Safety and Service Efficiency. However, the skills to deliver and leverage such services are highly sought after. For public safety organisations that are already budget pressured, how can they make the step forwards? 

Start with a clear vision; not to be confused with a multi-year strategic plan.  You need short, story-based ambitions that will deliver measurable benefits, and a centre of excellence built to deliver against these agile stories. 

The police’s National Policing Digital Strategy encompasses many technologies, with a focus on developing capability to make the most of data for intelligence, protecting people from modern criminality in an increasingly digital world, and transforming the technologies used. Ensuring policing can maximise the returns and potential of these technologies without detracting from the frontline is crucial.   

As an example, the administrative burden at the front line is considerable.  Every time there is interaction with the public there are logs, reports, stats, etc to gather and file.  Whilst many of these are electronic they are often on multiple systems, held in system or organisational siloes, take considerable time to create and have an increasing risk of human error. Lack of integration and data standards limits future actionable intelligence and sharing.  These systems and services can be simplified and connected at the front end, and integrated at the back end.  This improves user experience, while driving efficiency and effectiveness at the public safety level.  

The skills required to execute and implement change are also the skills most in demand, both in the public and private sector. At QA we have identified these to be: 

  • Cloud 

  • DevOps 

  • Software development 

  • Robotic process automation 

  • Testing and test automation 

  • Data analysis 

In order to execute digital transformation projects, you need to understand the skills and capabilities you have in-house and target investment where there are gaps.  

Once the gaps are identified, you can work towards bringing in the right skills. Traditional recruitment is one route – but it can be a challenge. Organisations in every sector are looking for a similar skill set – so it’s no surprise people with specialist skills are in short supply.  

Training existing employees to address skills gaps is another route. Training has the added benefit of ensuring your people continually advance their knowledge – evolving the skills in your organisation as tech evolves. It takes time and investment, but training programmes are available in any specialism, and they vary in duration so you can develop skills at the pace they’re needed.  

Our customers often find that, even after upskilling existing staff through training, they are still left with open headcount. Full-time intensive training academies are a great way to fill these gaps, developing skills from a basic level to comprehensive, practical knowledge of a specialism within 8-12 weeks.  

Another option is apprenticeships. With the target for 2.3% of public sector staff to be on an apprenticeship, this can be an effective way to get the skills you need whilst opening up fantastic employment opportunities locally.  

With a combination of training your existing team and bringing in ‘new blood’ you can build a culture of continuous learning and a team that understands the challenges and can envisage new or alternative ways of working. Developing these teams from a diverse mix of individuals is vital, bringing a mix of ideas and experience to teams. Re-skilling existing people and developing early careers also assists with budget challenges felt so keenly by the public sector. 

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