APS Commission wants to develop ‘digital career pathways’ but first has to define digital careers

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday August 14, 2019

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Do you work in digital? What does that even mean?

The Australian Public Service Commission and the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) are inviting public servants to help answer these questions as they develop “digital career pathways” for Commonwealth employees.

The DTA is hosting a series of workshops that will aim to define public service jobs that sit within “digital disciplines” like data science, cyber security, enterprise architecture, behavioural insights, performance analysis, business analysis or roles in content, design, and user research. Anyone with experience in relevant roles is invited to attend.

Steve Hibbins and Grant Nicholson from the DTA say the general aim of digital career pathways is to provide “clarity and understanding of the pathways between roles and disciplines” by putting some structure in place to help public servants see how their existing skills could be combined with new skills in different jobs.

“As well as movement between roles within the digital profession, the career pathways model helps people interested in transitioning from non-digital roles to digital roles. It also shows the specific skills they need to develop. For example, people who know how to draft or read legislation will usually have a good appreciation for how to write and read rules, which is a core foundation for developing software code.”

The digital career pathways will be based around the international Skills Framework for the Information Age, which all federal agencies can use for non-commercial purposes at least until June 25, 2021, under a license arranged by the APSC.

The commission says the SFIA, which has been developed over decades by a not-for-profit foundation, is already widely used in the public sector and it would like to keep a list of the APS agencies that use it, and hear about what they do with it. The APSC can also put people in touch with an SFIA practitioners’ forum with members from state and federal agencies.

“It’s a highly data-driven methodology to help to show the skill and knowledge pathways between common roles and disciplines across government,” Hibbins and Nicholson explain in a joint blog post.

The say digital career pathways should make it easier to understand what all the people in various “digital” jobs actually do.

“For example, what is the difference between a Technology Architect and a Solution Architect? The digital career pathways show that Solution Architects do a few things that Technology Architects don’t, for example, designing software and helping businesses change their processes.

“This process can also help with workforce planning by identifying potential skills deficiencies and suggesting areas for future skill development across the APS. This helps to plan and source the training needed for digital transformation to continue.”

Another opportunity to participate in the development of digital career pathways, part of a joint project between the two agencies called Building Digital Capability, is by agreeing to be interviewed by the DTA about “how people find, explore and pursue digital roles in the APS” to help it make that process easier.

The DTA wants to hear from people at any stage of their career, whether they consider their current job a digital career or aspire to one. And it sounds like they wouldn’t mind a new lunch companion.

“The research interviews take an hour, and you don’t need to leave your workplace – though it can be more fun if you do.”

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