THE BLOG

The Public Sector Needs A Reality Check And Should Operate Like A Private Business

28/09/2017 11:49 BST | Updated 28/09/2017 11:49 BST

Globalisation has been an incredibly disruptive force. It's transformed the way we communicate and meant alliances that were once unthinkable have been forged. It's also meant some workplaces have become unrecognisable from a decade ago. In the age of automation and globalisation jobs are bring axed left, right, and centre. It's survival of the fittest. Successful businesses have to make seven percent savings every year from the bottom line if they are going to thrive in the current business environment. Yet the public sector has to some extent been shielded from the forces of globalisation. Many civil servants have the kind of job security those in the private sector can only dream of. Gold plated pensions, a job for life seemingly in some cases unsackable.

It's not an unreasonable expectation that the public sector looks to make efficiency savings across the board. It's also not an unreasonable expectation that the public sector faces intense scrutiny over how they spend public money and pay their staff. Whilst I have nothing but the utmost respect for the dedication and bravery of our firefighters, doctors and nurses we need to live within our means and everyone irrespective of their walk of life should be held to account.

The London tri-borough initiative which saw Westminster, Kensington &Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham share services in a bid to drive down costs was a great example of local government adopting an innovative and creative approach to delivering public services. Under the partnership we saw the pooling of resources and joint management for children's services, adult care and libraries. Whilst it ended earlier this year I firmly believe it's the future.

The stark reality is that faced with the choice of an inflexible workforce or a robot that delivers with ruthless efficiency, entrepreneurs and employers are going to invest in machines. Machines in McDonalds will replace workers in 2500 restaurants by the end of 2017 and 3000 by 2018. And this a trend that's not going to disappear.

One continuous thorn in this whole debate trying to resist the winds of globalisation, are the unions who try to hold businesses and the government to ransom. Whilst unions can be a force for good, they are going to win few friends by adopting a work to rule attitude. Work forces need to be more flexible and adaptable if they are going to survive. Many of us will have three or four careers as the pace of technology transforms the economic landscape.

So far the government is behind the curve when its come to adopting the digital revolution and adapting to business mentality of the 21st century. If it's going to adequately respond to the needs of the public and business it needs to change its approach and embrace the power of technology to deliver better services, more cheaply and in real time. We live in a 24 hour business environment, its only right the government operates a 24/7 service too.

Whilst we can never run the public sector exactly like a business, it can adopt many of its key values such as accountability, transparency and efficiency. If it does this, then the robots just might not take over.