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Public Policy & Public Management – qualifications to build public sector capacity

Public Policy & Public Management – qualifications to build public sector capacity

Victoria University’s School of Government is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. We’ve been teaching public policy
for over 40 years and public management for 20 years. My name is Verna Smith and I’m the
programme director for the Master’s programmes in the School of Government,
and that includes the Master of Public Policy, the Master of Public Management, and the Master of the e-Government. These are all designed to increase the capability of people in the public sector. For the master of Public Policy degree you’re really looking to create fair and effective policy making capability. What it does is it goes you a holistic view of government in New Zealand. A lot of people within their own departments wouldn’t necessarily have an understanding of how different processes of government or the of machinery government works I think this, you know, brings everything together quite nicely. An awareness of things like ideology, and power, and trade off, so for every decision that you make
someone’s advantaged and someone’s disadvantaged and how do you process that, and in the
public sector how do you make that OK, how do you make it politically palatable. So there’s a critical perspective really,
that the course has helped me to develop. We need to be able to break down things
into the different stages of policy development, ranging from developing a framework all the way down to monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation. Probably the main thing I’ve got out of it is just a real broader understanding of policy. And so you can sort of see how it applies in lots of different areas which I might not have had so soon otherwise. The public management is much more about leading change, managing for results and really contributing to the operational effectiveness of public service organisations. I was really keen to undertake this programme to help me in terms of professional development, to learn more about public management, understanding the context that I work in, and also how I can be an effective manager. A big learning for me was just understanding the wider context of public management, the wider political context. That was so
interesting for me and it actually made me think ahhh, so that’s why things are like this. So then it’s really important for public servants to understand that. And for e-Government that’s very specifically targeted at enabling IT transformations in public services. And that it can be using IT for better government, or managing IT projects and implementing IT projects in a capable and a competent and effective way. For us the e-Government courses are very much about building future services in ways which perhaps even we can’t imagine them being delivered. And people choosing that course are going to be the real innovators of the services of the future. A lot of the lecturers and the academic staff have been involved in policy research, policy analysis, policy
management themselves. So they bring real-world experience into this as well Being able to work on issues that were not just topical but incredibly relevant in the current policy space, where you might be dealing with case studies in another university, here you were working on issues of importance now. It wasn’t detached from your own work experience, and I think for public servants that’s really important, especially those
who are studying and working full time. So I guess a big tick to the School of Government for using that approach. One of the most attractive things about the Master’s programme is that it is offered in many different formats and we’ve designed those formats so that they’re most helpful for people who have busy working professional lives. Yeah, definitely all the professors who are quite considerate of, you know, sometimes work can get quite busy and you might not be able to meet a certain deadline, so you know they’re quite flexible with this and understanding. Yeah, they really just support you to get through the programme. The proximity to decision makers that we here in the School of Government have is it a really defining feature and a defining advantage of the Master’s programmes here. We regularly interface with decision
makers, we can go and see them in action. Many of our teachers actively work with them in developing policy. It is a school which is intimately bound up with the business of government and that is a very, very unique quality. I’m every day using things that I have
actually learned in this programme. It taught me a lot about how to look at a problem, how to approach it. These are things that I think would take me, you know, five to ten years to build up if I was actually just working in the public service. In terms of the benefits, it’s really helped me in terms of my thinking and it’s definitely helped me in terms of different theories and approaches around public management. So I definitely feel more confident in terms of myself as a public manager. Yeah, I’ve found it really valuable, I think it really complements what I do on a day-to-day basis, and given me a bit more of a holistic understanding of the policy development process, and given me some new tools that I can use and work as well. I definitely recommend someone studying at Victoria, I think it just offers a really good opportunity to upskill and gives you a nice underpinning that you can build from in your professional career.

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