Prospect’s deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh, who gave evidence to the public administration select committee on behalf of the union’s 30,000 professionals, managers and specialists in the civil service said: “We welcome much of today’s report, not least its recognition that specialist skills have been eroded in a way which could jeopardise major projects.”
He added: “The skills problem will not be solved without addressing the problem of pay and the huge gap with the private sector, which is competing with the civil service for talented individuals.”
Today’s report, entitled “Developing Civil Service Skills: a unified approach”, warns that skills at mid-management level are being “significantly hollowed out.”
While acknowledging broad pay constraints, it says that the challenge of making efficient use of funding should be extended to civil service pay. If this is not done, the report suggests, “the civil service will needlessly lose expensively gained skills and knowledge, which it will struggle to replace.”
The report also criticises an “institutional learning gap”, with departments failing to share with each other the lessons from their respective successes and mistakes.
Among its specific recommendations, the committee, chaired by Bernard Jenkin, says there should be a standardised framework for auditing departmental skills levels and that spending watchdog the National Audit Office should be invited to carry out a regular civil service-wide skills audit.