Departments blog highlights advances in Digital Skills and Capabilities Programme
More details have emerged around the role - and organisational impact - of the so-called ‘Digital Ambassadors’ (DAs) being seeded across the big ministry to help Whitehall’s digital transformation moves
These come from a new HMRC website blog by Sha Jenkins, a personal assistant to a senior manager in the department but who also describes herself as a volunteer HMRC digital ambassador. The DA scheme has been up and running for about 12 months, and now numbers around 650 volunteers, with a target of 1,000 by February of next year.
In her post, Jenkins says that ambassadors like herself are not “geeky,” but “just normal staff with an appetite for digital” who put in time to to help other people in departmental offices who don’t have the digital confidence.
That confidence can be built up, she says, by something as simple as sitting down with such colleagues and talking through things they are “concerned about”.
But there is a bigger context here, she admits - the Department has set up the DA scheme due to HMRC being committed to improving services and the experience for our customers.
She offers the online Personal Tax Account and Business Tax accounts as examples of such drives - and points out how, to support these changes, the taxman is looking to modernise its own digital tools and technology internally.
That has thrown up some internal issues, she notes: “For some of our people, this has generated much excitement and positivity, but for others the move towards a more digital environment seems daunting, and presents a challenge.”
That challenge is being met by a range of initiatives, including the DA programme, in the form of its internal Digital Skills and Capabilities Programme (DSCP). DCSP is all about trying to introduce a number of initiatives to help staff “gain confidence and improve their digital skills”, usually in meets labelled ‘Let's Talk Digital’.
“The help we offer doesn’t have to be work-specific,” she notes - it could be something like how to search Google, how to use OneNote or explain the differences the team can expect when their computer is upgraded to Windows 10.
How is that working out in practice? “The feedback we’ve got has been really positive,” says Jenkins. “Even people who thought they were digitally knowledgeable and savvy have said Digital Ambassadors have helped them.
“Others have said they don’t know how they would survive without an ambassador in their office.”
On a personal level, Jenkins enthuses about how much she has got from agreeing to become a DA: “Being a Digital Ambassador has taught me that you can help people in all walks of life, at every opportunity.
“I’m confident this move will help us meet our aspiration and change HMRC’s digital culture.”
Her blog also details a number of other ongoing DCSP deliverables, such as a Skills Assessment Tool offered to colleagues to assess digital capability, identify skills gaps and signpost to digital learning packages, as well as a Digital Talent Programme secondment scheme which allows team members to work in a digital role for six months then take back new skills to help meet their own area’s evolving digital needs.
DSCP has also joined forces with the team who deliver new internal digital tools to form a new Internal Digital Programme, she concludes.
That programme’s aim, she says, is to “make sure all staff have the right tools, skills and confidence to do their jobs”.
The end point of that plan, she says, is that technology just works to the point that it’s “almost invisible”.