‘Upskilling’ to shape the next generation of international policymakers

SOURCE: Jittrapon Kaicome / Shutterstock
King's College London has set up new International School for Government to help policymakers and civil servants understand the changing world of public policy.

By U2B Staff 

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The culture of lifelong learning and professional development is touching every industry, helping employees stay relevant in an ever-shifting economy.

Government and international policymaking are no different, with the sector desperately needing skilled civil servants with an in-depth understanding of the systems in which they work and the implications of the decisions they are making.

At the end of the day, the public are the major winners and often losers of government policy, but they are regularly forgotten in the chambers of power, paying the price for ill-thought-out or selfishly motivated decisions.

While finding upskilling on digital skills or management training is fairly straightforward and easily accessible, professional development in international policy and the workings of government are less easy to come by.


That’s exactly why King’s College London has set up the new International School for Government to aid this process and help policymakers and civil servants from across the world in understanding the changing world of public policy. The school places citizens and the heart of policy and the political process.

The school was launched in September at an event with former British prime minister Tony Blair, who told the audience that the new school was timely given the advent of a “much, much greater focus on the processes and machinery and effectiveness of government.”

As reported by Times Higher Educationhe explained how important it is for those in government to have “executive skills” to get the job done. While talking was useful, being in government was “all about doing, and doing is infinitely harder than talking.” These skills, Blair believes, “can be learnt and taught.”

professional development in international policy
Tony Blair attends the Annual Charity Day Hosted By Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI on September 11, 2019 in New York City. Source: Noam Galai / Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald / AFP

Course modules at the school will cover a whole range of public policy areas, including User-centred Digital Government, International Conflict and Analysis, and Empathy and Emotion in Policymaking. The curriculum will provide a new and innovative approach to the professional development of those working in international policy and local government.

Civil service is not an easy job and a full set of skills, both hard and soft, are needed to be effective. The school aims to instill these in students, ensuring they are fully prepared and understand how influence and change moves through political circles.

“This new School will make a significant contribution to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector at a time when the public sector in the UK and beyond is under considerable pressure,” Executive Chair of the International School for Government, Alexander Downer, said when the school was first conceived back in 2018.


“New thinking is needed to address changes in technology, media and public expectations. King’s International School for Government will very effectively address those issues as well as the traditional priorities of public sector management.”

The school will carry out three main activities of policy education and training, policy research and policy engagement.

Through participating in accredited internationally-oriented continuing professional development courses, an Executive Masters or another form of Executive Education, policy professionals will hone their skills by embedding public engagement into all their activities.