Developing Digital Capability and the DDaT Profession

The fiscal challenges that we face mean that we need to address the future affordances of digital skills and we know that a system wide approach to digital capability is required.

Article by Lee Dunn, Head of the Scottish Digital Academy


Developing digital capability across the Public Sector

Our digital world continues to evolve at an unprecedented rate, and we face multiple challenges locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. The recent pandemic, the war in Ukraine, public service transformation and advances in artificial intelligence and cloud technologies have created an immediate need to refocus our effort on current and future digital capability. In response, we will scale the Scottish Digital Academy as the public sector centre of excellence for digital capability, supporting and maximising the benefit of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Profession within the Scottish Government.

The fiscal challenges that we face mean that we need to address the future affordances of digital skills and we know that a system wide approach to digital capability is required. Although we have some way to go to fully understand how we will work in the future, we have already started that journey and our thinking is beginning to advance and move into a detailed programme of work for the next few years. The illustration outlined in this article is but the first steps towards realising this ambition, and here I share with you our general sense of direction.


What is the Digital Programme?

The Digital Programme is a new area of work that will improve the way the Scottish Government does digital. The implementation of the programme will enable the delivery of quality digital public services that are predictable and seamless for the user. A shift in focus from individual projects and programmes at the local level and up to the system level will ensure that we are working on and delivering those projects and programmes that are the most important.

The programme is a key enabler to public service reform by embedding reuse as the norm, driving efficiencies across services, and the development of the Scottish public sector digital ecosystem.

A new Digital Scotland Service Manual will provide a common methodology for digital transformation, which will move beyond organisational boundaries to focus on end-to-end service reform across the public sector. A wraparound service will embed these common ways of working into public sector digital transformation.


What do we plan to do to support digital capability?

A key workstream for the programme is capability. We’ve been developing a programme of work which sits across four key workstreams:

  • Capability Management
  • Workforce Planning
  • Scaled Digital Recruitment Service
  • Scaled Scottish Digital Academy

Beneath each workstream, exists a number of projects and deliverables which are intended to help find, manage, and develop capability. This is a long term programme that will take a few years to complete, but we’re working in an agile way and you’ll begin to see the first iterations over the coming weeks and months, with further incremental developments as we move into 2024.

We recognise that we cannot do this work alone, and the DDaT Profession as well as our partners and stakeholders all have a role to play as we collaborate and co-construct resources for government and the public sector.

Some of the work we’re currently leading on includes:

  • Standardised DDaT job descriptions
  • Standardising our DDaT technical assessments
  • Introduction of a new Public Sector Advisory Group for Digital Capability
  • A new DDaT onboarding service for public and third sector organisations
  • Skills and career pathways
  • Tools, information, advice and guidance for organisational capability
  • Testing and developing our scaled recruitment campaigns for key digital roles

This is an exciting time to be working in this space, with many opportunities to walk the talk and transform how we operate and work together. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops over time, and in sharing our lessons learned as well as successes and achievements as we make progress.


Find out more

You can find out more and explore opportunities to get involved, by attending a webinar with Yorath Turner (Deputy Director Digital – People, Strategy and Corporate Services) and Lee Dunn (Head of the Scottish Digital Academy) on 5 October 2023.

To register, visit Building Capability through the Digital Programme – Scottish Digital Academy.

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