Good MorningBy way of introduction my name is Rory Gregg, I'm a Partner within the Business Consulting Practice for Grant Thornton and am based in Sydney.GT is a global Professional Services firm that specialises in providing our clients with a broad range of Assurance, Tax and Advisory ServicesMore often than not we find ourselves working closely with the Board, the CEO and his or her executive leadership team to identify and overcome a broad range of complex problems they may face in running their businesses.In Australia we have over 120 partners and 1,500 staff locates in all major capital cities.We work with a wide range of public and privately held companies, as well as government departments and entities across the country. Today I wanted to talk to you about the workforce challenges and opportunities facing leaders in the public sector.
AGENDAMany of the areas I will cover are relevant to governments across the country, but today I will drill down to several specific challenges that will require special attention in QueenslandFirst of all I will cover the challenges created by the changing face of Australia. Who we are, and where we live.After this, I will cover trends in service deliveryAnd finally, I will discuss productivity and innovation, and how they fit into the bigger picture.
In Australia, I think it is safe to say we all expect a lot from governments. We expect our children to have access to a good quality education, low cost access to medical services, and help when floods or fires affect our communities.By and large, we expect to pay taxes, elect politicians, and abide by the laws of the day. In return we expect governments to deliver the services we want.So why am I showing you a map of Australia? Because government services need to be delivered to communities, and people don’t always choose to live in places that are cheap and easy to service.Put bluntly, Australia is incredibly huge, and has only a tiny population. Population distribution and density clearly have a huge impact on the cost and efficiency of government service delivery.The tyranny of distance is an old concept, so old that many Australian’s seem to ignore it, and take it for granted.This map illustrates a fundamental challenge facing governments in Australia. The yellow and pale orange colours signifies the lowest population density areas. In those areas you could theoretically fly anywhere in one direction for one thousand kilometres and see fewer than 100 homes. These areas of incredibly low population cover huge portions of Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.Fortunately, telecommunications and Internet technologies are now helping to solve some distance related challenges, but many issues still remain.
So where is Australia heading. To understand the scale of demand for government services in the future, we need to understand possible scenarios for community growth and composition.The Australian Bureau of Statistics has done quite detailed projections for Australia’s population growth, and how it sees our future.Perhaps the most important things to emphasise are things we tend to take for granted. 64% of our entire population live in the state capital cities, and that proportion has been roughly stable since 1976.The population projections put together by the ABS show an expanding population which is aging rapidly. The fastest growing age group is people over 85 years of age. The projections are based on assumptions of significant immigration and birth rates. Life expectancy is the reason things are shifting dramatically, with life expectancy projected to be 85 years for men and 88 years for women by 2056.Today NSW already has a median age of 37.7 years, and agribusiness dominated Tasmania now has the highest median age of 40.4 years. Even rapidly states with significant net immigration like QLD have seen a large rise in the median age to 36.6 years.So without a massive increase in immigration levels, our available workforce will shrink significantly, and the elderly will grow to become a very large portion of the population. A population scenario similar to that already encountered by Japan. In case you were wondering, over the last 20 years, Australia's working age population of15-64 year olds has been stable at roughly 67.0% of the total population. These demographic impacts will start to slowly bite into our available workforce over the next few years. Considering we are already at full employment in many parts of the country, this increases the chances we will face workforce shortages over long periods.
Big data is a rather widely used buzzword at the moment, but it is still worth understanding the fundamental concepts as they apply to innovation and the public sector. In the past, projects were planned linearly, with a rigid execution to predetermined goals. You build a plan, a budget, manage the execution of the project, and progress (or not) to a well understood set of goals. When you achieved the goals, that was it.Conceptually, to successfully use big data processes you need to reorganise workflows to take advantage of repeated experimentation. It is quite a radical concept for many large organisations, and is still rarely used outside tiny pockets of workflow. The style of leadership needed to manage these iterative and more uncertain situations is quite different to regimented project planning. For a start, leaders need to be willing to accept changes which are shown to be effective, and quickly recover or iterate when failures occur.This model is quite challenging to most large corporate enterprises, and is likely to be very difficult to implement on a large scale within the public sector. I am sure many of you realise just how difficult experimentation can be within government agencies. It can easily be stymied by over-prescriptive policy and legislation.
The surge in Big Data over past decade has highlighted a number of vexing questions that leaders will need to consider. 1) Can insights be determined usefully from existing data, or will new measurements need to be collected. What is the size of the investment and how long will it take.2) Will the new measurements be intrusive, slow down staff, or impact the customer in any way?3) Will customers feel you are being creepy by asking too much detail?4) How much will the big data initiative add to your cost of sale or delivery?These and many other questions are beginning to fundamentally change the way leaders think about how they manage and lead - and more particularly how they use the information they gather to redesign new products and services as well as how those services are delivered through new channels and mediums.
Public Sector Workforce of the Future
The Public Sector Workforce of the Future Rory Gregg, Partner – Operational Advisory Grant Thornton Australia @rory_gregg www.rorygregg.com