The solicitor general, Harriet Harman, has called on the government to make public sector people strategies an important part of its third-term agenda.
Harman told Personnel Today that she was submitting a paper to senior public sector figures challenging them to take a fresh look at HR strategies and make better use of the potential within their departments.
“We haven’t even begun to explore the human capital in the public services, which can deliver for the public services themselves and contribute to other government objectives,” she said.
“We spent a lot of time and money talking about outreach to people who have no post-school qualifications. We don’t need to scour neighbourhoods and the socially-excluded areas – they are already employed in the public sector,” she added.
Harman said public sector leaders had to challenge traditional notions of people’s capabilities.
“You have to understand that people come through different routes and from different backgrounds,” she said. “Don’t assume that just because someone is doing a job that doesn’t require any intellectual capacity, that they have no intellect.”
Harman pointed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has had success in producing ‘home-grown’ lawyers through its Law Scholarship scheme.
The scheme provides financial support to staff who want to be lawyers, but have not had the opportunity to gain the necessary qualifications.
Harman said trainees were highly committed, as they recognised they had been given a second chance and had not just “fallen out of bed into private school and then Oxbridge”. They also understood the business better because they had seen it “from the bottom up”.
There was no reason why this kind of scheme couldn’t be applied to those wanting to take on public sector roles, such as doctors or teachers, she added.