GDS Academy to close

Initiative that provided digital skills training to several thousand officials each year is shutting down this month

The GDS Academy in operation in 2018    Credit: GDS/CC BY 2.0

The GDS Academy is being shut down after nearly nine years in operation, during which time it provided digital and data skills training to thousands of civil servants.

The academy began life in early 2014 as an internal digital training unit of the Department for Work and Pensions. Three years later, it was moved to the Government Digital Service, with a remit to train 3,000 departmental officials each year. Training was also available to local government workers and other public servants.

Courses offered by the academy covered digital tools and agile methodologies and how they can support the work of both technologists and policymakers, as well as analysts and project managers. In-person training was delivered in London, Stockport, Leeds, Newcastle and, on occasion, in pop-up locations in other parts of the country. Its initial set of 10 courses expanded to include new offerings in areas such as artificial intelligence and automation.

But the most recently published updates display just three courses on offer, all delivered online: digital and agile bitesize basics;  understanding users and their needs; and introduction to Kanban.

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The GOV.UK page listing upcoming training indicated that the courses currently being delivered will be the GDS Academy’s last. It has stopped advertising its offerings and will formally shut down later this month.

PublicTechnology understands that all civil servants working on the GDS Academy are being redeployed to other roles.

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said that the closure of the GDS-led training facility came in light of the creation of the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit two years ago

The unit – which, like GDS, is based in the central department – is supported by a dedicated campus, and delivers training across five strands: foundations of public administration; working in government; leading and managing; domain knowledge; and specialist skills – which includes digital and data. Technology and agile methods also form part of the content of the foundations of public administration training.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Last year we launched a new training campus, enabling civil servants to develop their knowledge through a single curriculum. The Government Skills and Curriculum Unit offers Civil Servants the chance to build on their expertise and enhance their skills in a vast number of areas, including digital and data.”


Sam Trendall

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