TJ Interviews: Daniel Okin of the Cabinet Office


Tell us about your background and your involvement in L&D.

I was born and raised in London, my parents worked full time while raising my brother and me. My father was a taxi driver and my mother was an office worker for a marketing company. I left college and went straight to work instead of going to college because I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to do.

I joined the Metropolitan Police Department as a Special Constable in 2007 with the desire to potentially become a full time police officer. Oddly, 14 years later I’m still volunteering to give back and help make London a safer place to live and work.

My first job was related to the human resources sector and after a few years I discovered a passion for people development, capacity building and the implementation of stimulating change programs.

In 2010, I started my bachelor’s degree in human resources management. I knew I wanted to stay in HR and L&D. I have also discovered that many of the basic skills required if any in all areas of work, including my volunteer role as a Special Inspector heading the City of Westminster Front Line Police Officers .

Finally, I was a punishment hungry and completed my Masters in Learning and Development in 2015.

My first key leadership role in learning and development was with Serco. I remember thinking ‘oh my god! what did I take care of? I had an amazing team that was also committed to helping others develop and grow professionally. I knew from that moment that I didn’t want to do anything else.

Workforce development needs to shift from working in silos to deep integration into the business and, above all, from a focus on content delivery and learning to a focus on performance.

The feeling I get in turning an organization’s needs into capabilities and creating programs for people who see individuals excel in their careers is the same as why I love volunteering in the police service. ! A sense of purpose to make a difference.

We all know there are huge transitions going on in government right now – what’s your current approach to skills development and retraining?

This year is incomparable to any change we have probably experienced in our lifetime. I think the biggest transition we’ve all had to make has been the drastic reduction in “real-time” people’s interactivity.

As we move towards a hybrid working model and continue to adjust remote operational delivery, there is a need to ensure that our colleagues have access to development and training programs. When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, like many in the learning and development space, Contract Management Capability quickly took the mostly face-to-face training courses online.

Our contract managers spend around £ 50bn per year on external contracts for a wide range of goods and services and need easily accessible training content and resources, whether they are based in the office or at home.

The future of work will require two types of changes in the workforce: skills upgrading, in which staff acquire new skills to help them in their current roles, and retraining, in which staff need skills to take on different or entirely new roles.

In operation-intensive industries, leaders are starting to recognize that the automation and digitalization of systems are likely to create significant gaps in staff skills, but many say they don’t feel up to the challenge, according to a recent study. of the four major consulting firms.

We offer hands-on experiential programs, which support capacity development by mixing theory with real-life role plays and plenary examples. Through this model, we together unlock behaviors, skills, understanding and application aspects.

Individuals are then formally tested to ensure that they meet a benchmark requirement across a number of technical and behavioral attributes. These skills are primarily related to contract management, but a good understanding of risk, financial statements, business purchasing and decision making is universally distributed across any industry, discipline or organization.

The importance is the relevance of the evolution of the political and environmental landscape! Ensure that what is accessible to employees is sustainable and meets future needs and demands.

How do you measure and validate the skills to continue to support employee career development opportunities?

Government professions have a career mapping framework that identifies abilities and behavioral requirements across different professional roles. Formal assessment and accreditation assesses an individual’s abilities, highlighting their strengths and areas of development.

For example, as part of the Contract Management program, we have developed two 360 diagnostic questionnaires. Individuals can assess their own abilities against a series of technical and behavioral scenarios, looking for an additional score from their peers and their staff. upper hierarchy.

The tailor-made programs and curriculum are regularly revised to maintain their relevance to legislation, political and environmental changes that require new or advanced skills on the part of our employees. While personalized content is always needed, it is playing a less and less important role in a rapidly changing, borderless, service-based global workplace.

Workforce development needs to shift from working in silos to deep integration into the business and, above all, from a focus on content delivery and learning to a focus on performance.

Improving skills is at the center of the recent government white paper on skills for employment and retraining and improving skills topped the L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2021.

During Covid, LinkedIn research shows workers spend more time learning (130% increase), more L&D leaders prioritize retraining (64% see it as a priority more than ever) and CEOs defend L&D more harshly (159% increase). [Statistics and reference taken from Emerge Education – The future of workplace development 2021]

We know that the majority of learning is done on the job in the 70:20:10 model. How do you support the 70% today like mentoring, concerts, projects etc. ?

We have specifically designed our programs to incorporate the 70:20:10 learning model, giving individuals the opportunity to directly apply what they learn immediately into their day-to-day work, reflecting on skill enhancement and development. ‘efficiency.

With the right tools and resources in place, the 70:20:10 model can help the individual by making learning immediately actionable. The 70% learning through the program is checked every week. Individuals attend small weekly online learning sessions led by experienced subject matter and learning experts.

These sessions provide access to real-life role-play scenarios, an opportunity for plenary discussion that can be brought back weekly to the workplace and through a structure of reflective practice, monitored to see a change in understanding, skills application and process management.

Individuals participating in the programs also have access to qualified training and development managers who provide advice on performance coaching. This is further supported by access to our online community of practice network, guidance on toolkits and templates.

It is important to remember that the 70:20:10 model is not fixed. It is not a question of obtaining a perfect division of the types of learning. It should be used as a guideline for the recommended mixture of learning needed through a program. The optimal mix will depend on the learners and the training need of the organization in question.

About the interviewee

Daniel Okin is responsible for learning and development (contract management capacity) at the Cabinet Office.


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