Skills for Tomorrow’s Public Policy Positions

Industries and job requirements are always changing, and positions in government are no exception to this. Keeping ahead of the curve and understanding what skills will likely be needed for future government jobs can give you a competitive advantage in the job market. Even better, these skills can all be learned online for free and added to your resume! Here are some of the top skills that experts predict are going to become increasingly relevant in the public sector and how you can become an expert in them:

  1. Data Literacy and Analysis: Firms in the private sector have seen huge profits from incorporating data into business strategies to make the most informed decisions. While the government is still a bit behind the private sector in this respect, it is increasingly utilizing data learning to become more efficient and better serve the people. Algorithms have been developed that can identify the areas of a city most likely to catch fire, lower traffic congestion, save the environment, keep citizens safer, and more. After these successes, the government is likely to shift even further in the direction of big data. Even if this shift does not happen for many years, data literacy and analysis will increase your value in the job market.
    1. How to learn this skill: 
      1. Datacamp is a free site that can teach you all of the most used data science tools, including SQL, R, Python, spreadsheets, and Tableau.
      2. Coursera offers a free course through John Hopkins University that will increase your data literacy skills.
  2. Psychology and Behavioral Insights: Countries such as Canada, Denmark, and Singapore have seen huge success after implementing behavioral insights into their public policy. And for good reason–a country that understands its people better can also serve them better. The World Bank believes that behavioral science is the future of public policy because it offers policymakers the tools to operate more efficiently and create better programs. Under Obama’s presidency, the United States made a commitment to start leveraging behavioral science more, and this trend will only grow in the coming years.
    1. How to learn this skill:
      1. Check out some podcasts that will provide great information on this topic.
      2. Read about how the US and other countries have successfully implemented behavioral insights into their public policy, such as this guide from the UK.
  3. Digital Competencies: The COVID-19 pandemic proved that the transition to virtual government is very necessary and required many government agencies to shift to the digital space. Governments in some countries, such as France, were able to develop “virtual doctors,” which are AI chatbots that can walk citizens through symptoms and provide a diagnosis to relieve overwhelmed healthcare centers. This type of government response is expected to become the new normal in a crisis. Additionally, government employees relied on digital assistance during the pandemic to manage their increased workload as unprecedented numbers of struggling citizens turned to the government for support. This trend is expected to stay even after the pandemic ends. Candidates who are comfortable in the digital environment and have a working knowledge of artificial intelligence and automation are more likely to succeed in tomorrow’s government jobs.
    1. How to develop these skills:
      1. Take free courses on Coursera to develop your knowledge of artificial intelligence and automation.
      2. IBM also has a guide to artificial intelligence for beginners.
  4. Inclusion and Equality Awareness: There have been increasing demands for policies in all areas that focus on equity. Policymakers and government employees who have a strong understanding of inequalities that are present in the United States and implicit biases are more likely to be able to deliver the policies that citizens need to increase equitable access to public goods and reform institutions that have roots in inequality. They will also have an increased ability to tell when a policy is working and when it might need to be adjusted. 
    1. How to develop this skill:
      1. Racial Equity Tools offers resources and further readings to help Americans understand implicit biases and how they affect people of color.
      2. Visit Coursera and take history courses that detail the ways prejudice and inequality have shaped economic policies and the country as a whole.
  5. Agile Government: Another trend to come from the coronavirus pandemic is agile government, which involves a flexible, creative, and methodical approach to creating public policy. Policy labs have been popping up in some governments that allow for testing and development of policies before they are implemented. The prototypes and simulations invite a scientific approach to policy making and will require tomorrow’s policy creators to have a working knowledge of how to test policy before it is implemented. Additionally, the creation of “soft” or temporary laws has become popularized by some governments as a way to adapt to changing situations. This opens up a new set of possibilities for policymakers, and will require them to become increasingly flexible and innovative with their approach to policy.
    1. How to develop these skills:
      1. Learn more about the scientific method and designing experiments on Coursera.
      2. LinkedIn Learning has several courses offering tips on increasing flexibility and adaptability.




By Julia Sullivan
Julia Sullivan Marketing Graduate Assistant