Digital Skills Program – Building the Department of Regional NSW’s Future-Ready Workforce

  • 2022

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Designed In:


By 2030, McKinsey estimates 5 million Australian jobs will be significantly disrupted due to technological, societal, and environmental shifts. NSW Government believes developing a future-ready workforce and skills-based economy is critical to regional NSW. In response, DRNSW has co-designed, piloted and is now scaling an innovative workplace skill building program.

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  • Tenets of the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW) are providing improved NSW citizen outcomes through service simplification, innovation, and improved government productivity through human-centred design (HCD), digital and automation. To meet the new government strategy, DRNSW must invest in contextualised (on-the-job) re-skilling and up-skilling of its workforce to be more effective, resilient and responsive to change. Preliminary strategic design work revealed: •Reduced productivity under increased remote and digitally intermediated ways of working, accelerated by COVID-19 •A widening digital inclusivity gap, with clear disparity in technical skills between regional and metro geographies •Financial impacts across programs due to employee digital capabilities

  • Together we designed and built the Digital Skills Program (DSP) – a continuous skills building capability comprising strategic workforce assessments, holistic diagnostics, competence and measurement frameworks, innovative skills-building journeys, coaching, social and operational support. The DSP delivers contextual and scalable workforce skilling by: •Leveraging HCD to recognise the contextualised needs of regional workforce, and their operational context •Innovative assessment frameworks that link skills to impact across multiple dimensions •Emphasising experiential, on-the-job learning in their own working environment, over self-paced digital environments isolated from real-world projects •An end-to-end Learning Operations function that enables scale, manage and report on program success

  • Results from two pilots validated the need and benefit of building skills on-the-job with contextualised content and coaching support: •89% of learners say the DSP is relevant to their role and/or career aspirations, •91% say coaching was valued and one of the most enjoyed aspects •70% feel their productivity increased immediately as a result of the skills gained during the pilot alone We estimate 2,500 employees will experience 300,000 hours of tailored learning over the next three years to uplift their digital skills, with 600 employees completing the program over the next 12 months.

  • #Contextualised learning journey design True behaviour change takes time, which is why the Digital Skills Program uses a social-based learning approach and includes cycles of action-feedback, reflection and social engagement. Pilots delivered flexible learning modules over a four-week period, and included: •Formal skills development activities, including assessment •Dedicated social interaction/reflection with coaching support •On-the-job project-based application of new skills with peer-feedback and assessment The design of the Program considers five competence areas, 21 competences and eight proficiencies. Ongoing participatory design helped to identify individual needs, map to skills-building archetypes and tailor programs to specific competences and proficiency levels within cohorts. #Learning Operations Function During the pilot phases we co-designed, validated and delivered an end-to-end Learning Operations Playbook that supports the continuous planning, change management, and delivery of learning journeys. The new Learning Operations function within DRNSW is now ready to drive the next phase of the Digital Skills Program scaling to 600 DRNSW employees over the next 12 months, with planned roll-out to 2,500 across the cluster.