Discussions of how technology is changing the job of government sometimes view the challenge reactively, but a recent report from Deloitte lands ahead of the issue, probing how the work will change — and predicting positions based on advances in tech and the rising influence of the consumer and talent markets.
In Government Jobs of the Future, authors Amrita Datar, William D. Eggers and Jenn Gustetic consider “what will government work look like in 2025 and beyond”? The aim is to educate readers on how public-sector staff and machines can “work together to optimize our collective impact.” A central goal, Eggers told Government Technology, was to deconstruct how that work takes place, then reimagine it “enabled by machine learning and digital technologies and new business tools.”
The idea of human-to-machine pairing permeates the study, which Eggers said aims to change the dystopian narrative that’s often heard about automation leading to disappearing jobs. In fact, he noted, human-to-machine pairings date back to the mechanization of farming. The current shift is already creating new jobs, he said, highlighting recent additions to teams like the user experience coordinator and positions in search engine optimization.
What’s new, Eggers said, is the rise of artificial intelligence and tools and techniques around virtual reality, augmented reality and in other areas, which should dramatically augment staffers’ capabilities. The report’s prediction of future jobs suggests a heavy lean on the use of technology to power flexible, remote and connected work. Additionally, the authors found that future jobs will center on employees, focusing on their wellness and personal development, and enabling broader on-the-job mobility and personal opportunities such as passion projects.
“This was really about saying we have an opportunity to shape this future of government work. It can be incredibly empowering for employees, and we wanted to start that process by developing these future government jobs,” said Eggers.
The report, released Oct. 4, envisions six new public-sector job profiles of the future, built on areas of government service that — regardless of their eventual evolution — aren’t going anywhere:
Child aid coordinator would investigate abuse, neglect or harm against children, offer counseling, court testimony and coordinate services and interventions. The person profiled in this report has a bachelor’s in social work, along with certifications in analytics and as a social worker; they would have previously worked in analytics and as a child welfare specialist.
Criminal redirection officer would assist low-risk, nonviolent offenders in “virtual incarceration,” skill-building and employment, monitored by digital tools. This person would have earned a bachelor’s in social work and started their career as a correctional case manager after interning at a county probation department.
Mobility platform manager oversees the city’s multimodal transportation system via AI, to minimize accidents and disruption while helping optimize prices and routes. This individual would hold a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and a master’s in urban and regional planning, and would be certified in the use of AI for transportation systems.
Public health and safety guardian inspects public spaces including restaurants, schools, and day cares and nursing homes; investigates incidences of illness; analyzes health data; and advises public and private officials. This person would have a bachelor’s in public health and national environmental certifications.
Smart base commander would command a garrison, managing infrastructure and daily operations and connecting with mission commanders and officials. A graduate of military schools, this individual would hold dual master’s degrees in international relations and strategic studies.
Talent cloud coordinator is grounded in human resources and helps an agency identify and deploy its workforce enterprisewide, based on need and skill sets. This person would have a bachelor’s in business administration and HR certification.
Technology underpins each future job classification: augmenting, as the report’s authors wrote, the existing abilities of these human workers. Powered by tech, the child aid coordinator and smart base commander were able to pivot their time away from administrative tasks toward client interactions and strategy sessions. In the former case, Eggers said, the time shift could be particularly welcome. He cited an analysis done recently in Colorado indicating case workers there spent less than 10 percent of their work time interacting with children and families. In the Deloitte report, the child aid coordinator’s client interaction time rose from 25 percent to 40 percent.
The criminal redirection officer, whose toolbox includes machine learning to enable virtual check-ins with clients and a virtual reality training environment, epitomizes the ongoing shift that has seen law enforcement deploy predictive policing, body-worn cameras, AI and analytics. The emphasis here on virtual incarceration could be a valuable change for the public sector, Eggers said, calling it “a really big opportunity that could save a lot of money.”
In a recent interview around his company’s release of Reimagining the Police Workforce: A Vision for the Future, Jody Weis, Accenture’s public safety lead for North America, and a federal and local member of law enforcement, agreed agencies are embracing technology to varying degrees and praised its potential for expanding their grasp.
“Just sifting through that huge haystack to find that proverbial needle — having the tool to help you a little bit is incredibly helpful,” Weis said.
But hiring and retention will be ongoing challenges for agencies seeking to modernize or redefine job classifications around technology. In the area of cybersecurity and creating a hardened posture, Eggers recommended agencies engage with the private and educational sectors to facilitate reskilling and training — but also consider imbedding AI into their cyberdefense to expand its reach.
The issue of outdated job classifications and work rules remains a big one for the public sector, the author said. As part of early steps toward meeting the challenge of technology, he recommended being more strategic with HR and moving away from systems that focus on classifications and rules.
“I think at the very basic level, governments need to understand where the world is moving and [show] a destination, and that’s a little bit of what these jobs of the future are doing, and kind of reimagining how to get there and doing some of that basic analysis,” Eggers said. He suggested agencies consider new jobs they’ll need to add, future skills employees will need and which activities can be automated.