Just a few years ago, I was at a public service where an application had to be submitted on their pc system. The four to five middle-aged civil servants in the specific room were very friendly and helpful but they could not do it. They had to call “Mr. Takis”, the man who knew “everything about computers,” as they said. Soon, miracle-maker Mr. Takis sat in front of the PC, and the rest of us, the civil servants and me, watched him add the simple data like name, address etc in this magic box called “computer.” In less than 10 minutes, Mr. Takis had inserted the required data and the 2-sentence request and a sigh of relief was heard from the crowd.
Back then, I had thought, that these civil servants will soon go to retirement and a new generation with super digital skills will replace them. How wrong I was, how little did I know.
The issue of civil servants’ digital skills will become more urgent in the near future, Interior Minister Makis Voridis said last week at a Forum.
One should note that the ministry of digital governance has started in the last two years to create one platform after the other in the public service to ease the notorious bureaucracy, the long queues and to make life of citizens easier.
Voridis pointed out that the application of technology by companies to improve their competitiveness will affect the Greek civil service’s ability to keep up with its regulatory role, and the gap may eventually create a political problem.
“If this disparity continues to grow and turns into a chasm, public administration will not be able to handle its regulatory role at the speeds demanded by the private sector,” the minister said, “and this may create a political issue, making public administration seem like a dead-weight to economic growth.”
Programs such as those being developed with Microsoft are among options to address the issue, he said, also noting funding sources for skills upgrade in Greece.
PS the thumbnail picture shows the system where all civil servants in Greece have the best digital skills ever since the PCs found themselves on the desks of public service offices.