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Report reveals flexible learning is key to public sector job satisfaction

The Open University’s new report into public sector skills, Embracing Flexibility: How can Learning & Development service new hybrid working and learning models in the public sector? highlights a desire for more flexibility and learning and development opportunities

One of the largest recent UK wide public sector employee surveys, published in partnership with Public Sector Executive, revealed 8 in 10 public sector employees in Northern Ireland cite learning and development as key to job satisfaction.

Nearly half (43%) of NI public sector employees want to re-skill into a different role in the future (more than any other part of the UK) and a desire for flexibility and blended learning was shown to be the preferred learning style at 58%.

In addition, according to this report with more than 2,500 respondents overall, adapting to a flexible hybrid working model is key to staff retention within the public sector, indicating the pandemic’s effect on ways of working is here to stay.

It revealed that three quarters (77%) of public sector employees in NI state they are more likely to stay in a job that allowed remote or hybrid working options.

John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland said:

“The public sector has traditionally been at the forefront of workplace change.  With flexible working and job shares, many employees have been able to build long-lasting careers and fulfil their career ambitions around their personal responsibilities.

“But two years ago, the business landscape was forced to adapt to the pandemic, leading to a rapid acceleration of this change, with public sector employers and employees still trying to understand what increased hybrid and flexible working means in the future.

“Our survey reflects the desire for flexible learning, hybrid models and remote working, suggesting they are here for the long-term in many job roles, and employees still want to engage in learning and development to reach their full potential.

“The report also showed that half (51%) of NI public sector employees want to be offered more learning opportunities, which is a clear opportunity for employers looking to improve their staff retention rates. The future will require more choice, driving better awareness and rethinking the way learning is delivered in the workplace.”

Leadership and management training proved to be the most popular area of learning in this survey, favoured by 29% of public sector employees overall and rising to 48% in Wales, 48% in Scotland and 54% in Northern Ireland.

The report also showed more than a third (39%) of NI public sector employees would like to improve their digital skills. This combination of digital services and remote working makes technology skills essential.


Visit to download the report Embracing Flexibility: How can L&D service new hybrid working and learning models in the public sector.

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