How SaaS can improve workforce skills management for government agencies
For years, federal and state governments have recognised the value of cloud technologies.
The Federal Government’s 2017 Secure Cloud Strategy, updated in 2021, as well as the ‘cloud-first’ or cloud inclusive approaches that have been taken by state governments, all aim to ensure the benefits of the cloud are shared by public sector agencies into the future.
That’s because of the potential cloud offers for public sector service improvement.
The Federal Government itself has suggested four key benefits for agencies in the cloud:
- The speed agencies can gain in delivering new platforms
- Allowing for continuous improvement
- Providing easier access to services
- Reducing the effort needed for maintenance to boost service.
What’s stopping government agencies from embracing new cloud technologies?
Despite the acknowledged value of the cloud, agencies have been slow to embrace it.
A 2019 survey of 70 Government agencies conducted by Deloitte (on behalf of Amazon Web Services) found the average IT structure was only 24% in the public, hyper scale cloud; 70% remained on premise IT or off-premise IT in government owned and operated data centres.
There are a number of barriers standing in the way of widespread adoption. Deloitte identified these as an understanding and skills gap, perceived data privacy and sovereignty risks, procurement issues, budgeting constraints and existing organisational cultures.
The Federal Government’s Secure Cloud Strategy points to "a shortage of knowledge and experience, decades old, stubborn operating models and a struggle to sell the case for cloud across the business” as some of the factors getting in the way of agencies realising their cloud aspirations.
Embracing the cloud with SaaS workforce skills and training management
Despite the hurdles, it’s clear there is a pent-up demand for cloud services in government agencies. Where the decision makes sense, they want to use cloud technologies now. Could enterprise workforce skills management and training be an area worth exploring?
There’s no doubt that workforce skills are a critical consideration for government agencies. To provide the quality of services expected into the future, they will need to centrally manage and track skills and skills pathways as closely as any large private sector enterprise.
This is because government workforces, just like those in other sectors of the economy, are challenged by managing large, complex workforces through fast-paced change. Ensuring robust workforce capability will require a new level of proactivity when it comes to skills.
In general, Deloitte found the top cloud benefits experienced by agencies so far have been:
- Improved agility – the ability to scale operations as needed (79%)
- Improved productivity (71%)
- Better infrastructure and service, reliability and data security (61%)
- Faster adoption of exponential technologies like AI and VR (54%)
Seen through a workforce skills management lens, this translates to agencies being more adaptable to changing workforce capabilities and training they may need over time, including upskilling and reskilling, and managing this with more efficiency and impact.
It also means they should be backed by advanced technology infrastructure and security, protecting employee personnel Personal Identifiable Information, as well as deploying innovation more readily across HR and training, supporting things like employee engagement and learning.
Three areas where cloud technology exceeds government agency expectations
The team at ReadyTech has witnessed a lot of these drivers in action. As an ASX-listed provider of workforce skills management and training technology for government agencies, we notice both the genuine desire – and complex difficulties – of embracing the cloud.
There are three key issues that we notice are top of mind for government agencies:
Government agencies want to ensure that, first and foremost, their data is secure. When they choose to utilise the public cloud, they want to ensure they are accessing the value the cloud can provide, without adding to their technology supply chain risk profile.
Recent high profile data breaches and cybersecurity incidents involving major Australian household names have refocused the public and private sector on the risks facing data, as well as the best practice measures that can be deployed to minimise and mitigate these risks.
What is clear is that many cloud software and infrastructure providers, whose businesses depend on ensuring the security of customer data, often deploy market-leading cybersecurity measures to secure their customers’ data, as well as the sustainability of their businesses.
ReadyTech, for example, has an industry-leading security program dedicated to ensuring our government agency customers have the highest confidence in our ongoing custodianship of their data, and in particular that their data remains onshore in Australia and protected.
Our Information Security Management System (ISMS) is aligned to the ISO 27000 standards and is regularly audited and assessed by third parties.
The cloud hosting platform (AWS) is designed to meet the requirements and security controls of the Australian Government’s Information Security Manual (ISM) and Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) cloud security guidance for storage and processing of data classified up to OFFICIAL. Our platform for workforce skills management deploys the same hosting approach as other products approved by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment after a rigorous audit process.
Government agencies want to ensure that any workforce skills management, tracking or learning platform can be flexibly configured to align with existing structured employment bands as well as a variety of different workforce development pathways and use cases.
Government agencies have very specific, structured requirements when it comes to workforce skills management and training. They need any system to be able to adapt to them, not be forced to squeeze their own requirements to suit an external provider of cloud software.
This means agencies need software that is highly configurable to their workforce structure and the training and development pathways they have in place to skill their workers, as well as give them centralised oversight and control over their workforce through surfaced data.
ReadyTech’s workforce skills management platform, for example, was born in the education sector and designed for the complex needs of educators in vocational and higher education as they manage large, differentiated bodies of students through education and training journeys.
Our customised offering allows government agencies to apply this technology to manage their workforces through levels of progression and associated learning and certifications, in ways that can be flexibly configured to their own internal agency needs.
Government agencies want to tap the scalability benefits of the cloud, to ensure that no matter what demands are placed on their agencies, they can manage those requirements efficiently and more cost effectively with less reliance on on-premise infrastructure.
Scalability is a key concern for agencies managing an on-premise footprint. With the added costs and maintenance associated with keeping this current, there is an appetite to be able to access more scalable and cost-effective services that free agencies up to do their work better.
Accessing more scalability means agencies are also able to ensure the continuity of services through peaks and troughs, as well as avoid the risk of any reputational damage that could occur should unforeseen events result in them exceeding their capacity unexpectedly.
Deloitte’s survey of government agencies provides the example of Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and the NSW Rural Fire Service, which both require significant increases in computing power during emergencies due to high volumes of users on applications.
EMV uses public cloud to provide a mobile application that allows over 1 million Victorians to receive personalised information about developing incidents, and user views of NSW Fire Service sites and apps can increase from 6 million to 14.1 million during large fire events.
Now that you've learned why SaaS is the future of government, do you feel ready to transition to the cloud? Read our quick guide before you do.