University of Birmingham 21st Century Public Servant

University of Birmingham 21st Century Public Servant

University of Birmingham crest

The 21st Century Public Servant

 This is a Knowledge Exchange project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in partnership with Birmingham City Council.

We are looking at the skills, values and identities of the future public service workforce.

At a Round table event in Birmingham in November 2012, we brought people working in public service leadership together to discuss these issues. Participants described the challenges of encouraging workers to be entrepreneurial and collaborative in conditions of austerity and organisational shrinkage. ‘The skills we are teaching people in local government are not the ones they need’ as one participant put it. Despite the wealth of materials available on future public services, career development and training resources were felt to be underdeveloped or disconnected from broader debates.

Our aim is to make these connections, and to produce materials that are useful for people planning their own career development within public services, as well as for strategic leads and human resource directors. We know that the term public servant isn’t ideal. It sounds outdated and too narrow to encompass people working outside the public sector. Our aim is to be inclusive, to produce materials that are relevant for all people who work in public services, whether in the public, private or third sectors. We haven’t come up with a better term for those people than public servant although we are interested in hearing suggestions on this topic.

We started by looking at the academic and policy literature on public service change and how change is impacting on people working in these services.

Here we summarise eight lessons from that literature:

The Twenty First Century Public Servant- Eight Lessons from the Literature published (PDF 307KB)

More information

You can find out more about the project on our blog: