Renewing Scotland's public services: priorities for reform in response to the Christie Commission

The Government's response to the Christie commission on the future delivery of public services.

Workforce and Leadership

"We believe that front-line staff, along with people and communities are best placed to identify how to make things work better. It is critical that managers at all levels support staff in empowering users and communities, and to give fresh meaning to their own work."
Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services

Reshaping public services to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland must be an inclusive and collaborative endeavour involving the workforce at all levels.

The expertise, energy and creativity of the public sector workforce will help to shape our evolving programme of public service renewal and improvement. We want all public servants to have the opportunity to have a say in how their organisations operate and be encouraged to contribute ideas about how improvements might be made.

We recognise the contribution of the many thousands of public sector workers whose commitment to their valuable work has continued in spite of tight settlements and actions to restrain pay.

Maintaining employment in the public sector is crucial to ensuring Scotland's economy is well placed to recover from the global downturn. The current No Compulsory Redundancy agreement has given many public sector workers economic stability and job security at a time of great uncertainty. The Government believes this commitment has also created the right atmosphere to enable substantial savings to be found year on year which have already transformed efficiency in Scottish Government. We will continue the policy position of no compulsory redundancies for a further year on condition that agreements are reached on flexible working practices which reduce costs while maintaining headcount and services.

We have also published, alongside this document, the Government's Public Sector Pay Policies for 2012-13, covering staff pay remits and senior appointments. Public sector pay is a significant element of our budget. In setting pay policy, we need to balance difficult decisions on tight pay constraint with the need to sustain employment opportunities across the public sector. To help maintain staffing levels, it is essential that we control pay growth and keep pay at an affordable and sustainable level. This year's pay policy therefore includes the continuation of the pay freeze implemented in 2011-12, and the continued suspension of access to bonuses. Within that tight constraint we have again been able to provide measures to support the lower paid, by maintaining our commitment to the Scottish Living Wage and ensuring that any employee earning less than £21,000 receives at least a £250 increase. Reflecting our commitment to fairness, Ministers will also be freezing their pay in 2012-13 for the fourth year running.

We are committed to enhancing the capability of the workforce and will continue to invest in workforce engagement and development and to support leadership collaborations across public service organisations. Growing mutual understanding and shared purpose breaks down barriers between organisations and frees the frontline to respond directly to the needs of individual service users.

Increasingly, we will look to leaders of Community Planning Partnerships across Scotland to disrespect boundaries between public services and focus on the achievement of shared outcomes and cross-sectoral workforce development strategies.

We will encourage effective management and strong employee engagement at every level in every workplace. By working in this way we aim to maximise productivity, raise job satisfaction and promote improved well-being across the public services workforce.

Our Achievements

Our commitment to the public sector workforce is evident in the choices we have made. When faced with unprecedented financial pressures we rejected the argument that public sector employment is a drain on the nation's resources. We know the work done by public service workers is essential to underpin our national prosperity and quality of life.

Since receiving cuts in the devolved budget, we have engaged positively with public sector unions and done our utmost to safeguard numbers of frontline posts by pursuing a policy of responsible pay restraint.

Recent achievements relating to the public services workforce include:

  • the commitment of the Scottish Leaders Forum of public service chief executives to:
    • make workforce engagement and development a core priority. A sub-group of chief executives have set out priorities for action and released resources to take this forward; and
    • develop the fundamental principles of local leadership to be exercised by Community Planning Partnerships.
  • supporting multi-professional children's services leadership retreats in 2010-11, organised by the Association of Directors of Education, Scotland's Virtual Staff College and Columba 1400. Participants were senior leaders from local authorities and health boards who are involved in the delivery of children's services. Evaluation of the programme shows improved relationships between professionals from different backgrounds, acknowledgment of shared values and commitment to plan and deliver services better together;
  • 73 new NHS Scotland staff completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Frontline Leadership and Management in 2011 and an independent evaluation of labour management in NHS Scotland (University of Nottingham) shows Scotland at the forefront of staff governance and partnership working;
  • taking forward, with all stakeholders, a programme of work to implement Changing Lives, the report of the social work review, to support workforce and leadership development and capacity building across the 200,000 strong social services workforce;
  • bringing together emerging leaders from across public services in Scotland in Collaborating for Outcomes, an innovative and intensive leadership development programme;
  • multi-agency training on how to plan for and respond to emergencies locally through the 8 Strategic Co-ordination Groups for senior officials in the 3 'blue light' services, councils and other key responders ( e.g. Scottish Water, other utilities and SEPA); and
  • the development of Traditional Building Skills to improve the standard, consistency and availability of skills training to preserve Scotland's historic environment.

Our Priorities

Management and frontline staff in public services need to be encouraged and supported to prepare for change, promote innovation, embrace new approaches, improve performance and involve communities and service users in the design of public services. We are committed to the further development of the capabilities of the public service workforce and its leadership.

Our priorities for improving workforce and leadership during this Parliament include:

  • emphasising that Community Planning Partnerships have a key role both in maximising the shared capacity of the public service workforce and in maintaining positive engagement with the frontline staff who deliver public services to people and communities across Scotland day and night;
  • the commitment of the Scottish Leaders Forum to embed and expand our shared commitment to building collaborative leadership capacity and grow flexible development opportunities (such as secondments, action-learning and mentoring), pool resources and improve outcome focus;
  • sharing the core learning and principles of the UK Employee Engagement Taskforce through targeted events in Scotland;
  • taking forward the recently published report Teaching Scotland's Future, which reviewed teacher education, including leadership development for teachers. A National Partnership Group is taking forward the report's recommendations which include developing a clear, progressive educational leadership pathway;
  • driving workforce and leadership development across the whole of the social services workforce, in particular through the work of the Scottish Social Services Council and through supporting collaborative approaches to workforce development between all of the key delivery agents - NHS Education for Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council, employer bodies, employers and education and training bodies;
  • developing a practice-based qualification for criminal justice social workers in Scotland (as a replacement for the current MSc) in partnership with the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre;
  • developing the skills of the Alcohol and Drugs Workforce - focussing initially on developing skills in service user engagement;
  • developing the skills of those working in the third sector by ensuring that third sector organisations have access to appropriate skills development opportunities, including leadership development through the Just Enterprise programme; and
  • Historic Scotland's commitment to employ 30 additional apprentices over the next three years to enhance the development of traditional building skills and expertise.
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