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Government announces major projects skills academy to save costs

A skills academy to improve the building and consultancy expertise of civil servants working on major tax-payer projects has been launched by the Cabinet office today.

The Major Projects Leadership Academy is being delivered in partnership with Oxford’s Saïd Business School and will start this October.

The academy aims to build the skills of project leaders across the civil service, reducing the reliance on external consultancy when delivering complex projects. Eventually, all major government projects will have to go through the academy.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said two of the first projects that will benefit are the Olympics and High Speed 2.

“Taxpayers need to know that major projects will be delivered on time and to budget. We do have impressive expertise in the public sector at the moment, but we want to take a long term view and build this within Whitehall,” said Maude. “Starting with our current leaders, we will develop a generation of professionals that are internationally recognised for their skill and expertise.”

The academy aims to learn lessons from other sectors and projects and has been developed in collaboration with the government’s lead non-executive director Lord Browne of Madingley. While head of BP, he set up a project academy jointly with MIT to help deliver more projects on time and within budget.

The academy programme

Two groups of 25 people will enter the academy each year
The one year programme will cover three main themes and will be split in the following way: major project leadership (50%), technical understanding of major project delivery (25%) and commercial capability (25%).
Participants will be assessed before starting to programme to tailor the course to their needs
There will be three, five day residential modules interspersed with more tailored learning.
Teaching and learning is to be 60% practical and 40% academic and will comprise a mix of team and case study exercises, face to face work and access to leading project leaders.
Completion will not guarantee graduation from the programme and a certain standard must be met.
Graduates will gain membership of the academy business partner’s alumni network for at least five years plus membership of the MPA support network for leaders of major projects in government.
Graduates can also get involved in mentoring future academy students and alumni.


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