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Introducing the digital passport

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Capability

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The main objective of our digital capability work is to raise the digital confidence and skills of everyone who works in the department.

The vehicle we want to do this through is the digital passport. Supported by their local digital champion, colleagues across the department will assess their understanding of digital and access the resources they need to help them improve where necessary.

This is absolutely not about developing an army of cyborgs within the department, constantly gazing at their smart phones, watches and whatever else comes along next. Instead it is about equipping our people with the confidence they need to be able to do great work, using the best tools and approaches available to them.

However, actually deciding what the passport looks like gets trickier the more you think about it. After all, we don't want to be too focused on specific tools, but nor do we want to be so high level that what we talk about has no practical benefit.

So what to do? As always, the best approach is to just do something, and share it with folk to enable us to improve it.

Here's our alpha, if you like, of the main headings of the digital passport. These are the key things we feel a civil servant in the twenty-first century ought to be comfortable with. The language, I know, isn't perfect. They all need rewriting. We also need to drill down each one, to figure out what it actually means in practice, and how learning might be presented around it and how it could be assessed.

  • understanding what ‘digital’ means in the context of government, and that it means more than just social media
  • understanding the relevance of digital to your specific role
  • understanding the meaning of agile as a way of delivering projects and services
  • understanding of the importance of user centred thinking and design
  • knowledge of the importance of good planning in digital work
  • ability to recognise common user interface patterns and experiment with new systems
  • an appreciation of different, appropriate approaches to information security
  • knowledge of how to find support and guidance inside and outside of DH
  • knowledge of common digital tools and what they can be used for
  • recognition of good quality digital work and projects from DH and beyond

Please give us your feedback on these ideas! Are we along the right lines? Anything we are missing? Anything really amiss with them? The comments box is waiting!


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  1. Comment by KHornby posted on

    It would be good to know how this digital passport operates within and encourages a global workforce, recognising international qualifications. This is imperative and needs to be built into all communications about it.

  2. Comment by Benji Portwin posted on

    Hi Dave,

    Looks like a good start. There are a few people working on similar project at GDS, so might be worth us all linking up over coffee at some point to share ideas?
    I'm on if you're keen.

  3. Comment by Jude posted on

    Hi Dave,

    fascinating project! I was wondering if I could give you a call to pick your brains about this approach sometime?

    Many thanks,


  4. Comment by simonfj posted on

    Gee Dave,

    You really are reinventing a pretty old wheel here. You must have googled "digital passport".
    I think this is the most developed.

    Although most of these ideas seem to be found under "digital skills'. The eu DA guys have been over this twice so far. e.g.

    Your version is centered around how "digital skills" can be boiled down for a civil servant in the UK. So the primary starting point from your perspective is "knowledge of how to find support and guidance inside and outside of DH". That's a bit hard at the moment as the knowledge hub for GOV.UK people is yet to be invented.

    Not that it's of much interest, as the skills they're after are dependent on how digitally competent the majority of Users are. i.e. The more Users can help themselves, the less need for an intermediary. So your audience would naturally fit as a subset of this one.
    Or from a topic centric (i.e. health) perspective into this one

    You might stay across this one as webbies tend to be the people around which 'learning hubs' get together. (as they do spend their time designing for, and comparing between, .org web sites/silos)

  5. Comment by Pargan Singh posted on

    Brilliant approach I wouldn't mind know more about this project who do I need to discuss this further with?

  6. Comment by Paul Webster posted on


    Do you know if DH see a place for this framework outside of core DH staff?

    Our Connecting Care project ( is also funded by DH to work with voluntary sector organisations that are delivering social care services. One of aims is to help staff in care homes and care services to understand the importance of digital literacy and grow their competency. Sadly we see too many instances where "computers aren't for me, i'm here to look after people".

    We've written about it here and here also with a link to

    Would also be interested in meeting up for a coffee and a catch up Dave!


    • Replies to Paul Webster>

      Comment by Dave Briggs posted on

      Hi Paul

      Totally! Not only would we be delighted if other organisations took up our model and improved it, we also want to make that as easy as possible for them to do so. So we will keep publishing stuff on the blog as we develop it, and will hopefully be releasing our passport assessment tool for others to repurpose too (it's WordPress based).

      Always happy to chat! Meet / phone / Skype / however!