Whitehall departments from now on will have to buy their training through a government agency, Civil Service Learning, run by the private company, Capita.
The new learning “gateway”, which came into force at the beginning of April, is the third seismic shakeup in the provision of training for the UK civil service over the past 15 years.
The third major shakeup, a direct result of the first delayed by 15 years, was the closure of the national school, and its replacement, after almost two years of dithering, with a private sector provider. Capita now has a £50m contract to provide civil service training, with the proviso that 51% of that training has to be outsourced.
The new arrangement could potentially lead to the empowerment of line managers at a much lower level, and any increase in responsibility lower down the chain of command in the huge departments of state is to be welcomed. Civil servants only function well in my experience if they are really empowered, and they very seldom are.
Individual civil servants, their HR chaperones, and their learning and development managers across Whitehall were delighted and flocked in their thousands to attend the training courses offered by the new providers.