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October 2020
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Public servants look to the future at this year’s Public Sector Show

Exclusive research published in April, carried out by the team behind the Public Sector Show, has explored the views of over 200 public servants, gauging their views of the current state of affairs in the sector and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Top of the list of concerns for those leading, delivering and managing public services is finance and resource, cited by seven in ten (71%) of those surveyed. So much of a concern is this for public sector employees that almost two-thirds (64%) expect the quality of public services to decline in the coming years, with a majority expecting it to get harder for the sector to provide value for money for the taxpayer.

Issues related to the skills and expertise of those working in the sector are not far behind on the list of concerns. More than three in ten cite staff shortages (38%) and staff skills (31%) as important challenges facing the public sector – perhaps unsurprising when over two-thirds (64%) believe the increased use of technology in the public sector will lead to job losses, with a majority (54%) expecting the challenge of building a workforce with the right skills to get harder.

However, among the challenges identified were also opportunities. Technology, in particular, was seen as a “double-edged sword”, with a significant majority of those surveyed predicting that its increased use would also lead to better (68%) and more efficient (65%) public services. Collaboration across public sector bodies, and to a lesser extent between public and private sectors, was identified as another opportunity to deliver better, more efficient public services.

Further research carried out by the Public Sector Show team, published in June in association with Burges Salmon, explored the views of over 200 infrastructure professionals on the country’s major building priorities for the coming years.

The research revealed that almost six in ten (59%) people involved in planning and delivering infrastructure projects across the UK think that leaving the EU will make it harder to deliver improvements to the nation’s infrastructure. With the UK’s impending departure from the EU casting uncertainty over the future, half (49%) of those surveyed called for clearer direction from central government as key to improving the nation’s infrastructure.

When it comes to infrastructure spending priorities, almost three times as many people (75%) chose digital (5G/full fibre broadband) compared to air capacity (27%), while seven in ten (72%) opted for energy over just four in ten (40%) favouring the nations roads.

These findings, and others from the report, will be used to develop the agenda for the third annual National Infrastructure Forum which, for the first time, will be held as part of the Public Sector Show, the must-attend event for those looking to deliver smarter, better and more efficient public services.

Helping public servants to navigate the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities ahead is a key theme of this year’s show. Covering four key themes (Digital & Technology; Finance & Corporate; Estates & Infrastructure and Workforce & Leadership), attendees will hear from over 140 leading speakers from across the sector, including Chris Grayling MP – Secretary of State for Transport; Jacky Wright – Chief Digital Information Officer, HMRC; Malcolm Harrison – Chief Executive, Crown Commercial Service; and John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport.

Meanwhile, over 150 leading suppliers to the public sector, including Airbus, KPMG, Cisco, TechUK and Specsavers, will be exhibiting at the Public Sector Show, showcasing products and solutions that can support the public sector in delivering the services the UK relies on.

The Public Sector Show will take place at ExCel London on 26th June and is free to attend for those working in the public sector. Its sister event will be held in Manchester on 20th November. Find out more and register here.

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