Opening up on our public sector workforce data

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

More than 300,000 people in Wales work for the public sector, accounting for 22.3% of employment in Wales. However we know very little about the characteristics of the people that make up the public sector workforce and how it is changing.

This is something that has been identified by the Workforce Partnership Council 1 as part of their work to improve workforce planning across the Welsh public sector. The good news is that this information already exists and is held by public bodies within their various management information systems, which unsurprisingly differ from organisation to organisation. Over the past year we have been working through a sub-group of the Workforce Partnership Council, with other public sector employers and trade unions, to agree how we can improve the accessibility of this data by encouraging public bodies to publish it openly.

This work will help:

  • support good approaches to workforce planning across different public sector bodies, to ensure sustainable delivery of public services
  • provide citizens with a transparent view of the size and structure of the workforce employed by public services
  • provide value for money in public service delivery by reducing the burden of answering numerous requests for the same information

Also with individual public bodies publishing their own data it recognises their responsibility as the employers whilst eliminating the need to develop a new central data collection.

As a group we felt it was important that we avoid placing unnecessary burdens on public bodies and so decided that an iterative approach would be best. A natural starting point was to re-use data that already exists, such as the workforce benchmarking data collected by Data Cymru and shared across local government. This data provides insight into the workforce of local authorities according to gender, age, salary, full-time/part-time, leavers and redundancies. Working with WLGA, Data Cymru, and local authorities we agreed to publish this data openly and for the first time this data is now available through Infobase Cymru  in open format.

We’ve also today published the same data for Welsh Government staff on StatsWales in open format, as part of our wider commitment to open data.

Where next?

However this is only the start of the process. The initial publication is based on the existing data return collected through Data Cymru. In the future we would like to build on this and expand the range of information made available. We’re already working with the NHS and other devolved public authorities to develop similar approaches for their organisations, and we hope we can show progress on both the range and scope of information available by the end of the year.

A particular priority in terms of coverage of the data is to openly publish Public Sector Equality Duty data, including data on gender pay differences, from across the public sector. We would also like to improve accessibility to data on employees Welsh Language skills. Whilst there are examples of this data being captured and published in statutory equality reports, or annual Welsh Language standard reports, it can sometimes be difficult to find so we would like to work with public bodies to ensure this data is as open and as accessible as possible.

A future review of the implementation of the Principles and Guidance to support joint workforce planning (which were published in July 2017) will help us understand if this is the right data and how it is being used for that purpose.

We are committed to continuing to encourage this approach to open data across the Welsh public sector on other matters and would welcome views on other priority areas to inform future guidance that we are developing.


1. The Workforce Partnership Council (WPC) is a tripartite social partnership structure of the Trade Unions/Employers/Welsh Government covering the devolved public services in Wales. Social partnership in Wales is a way of working, a set of behaviours which all partners commit to uphold in supporting our dedicated public service workforce to deliver strong, effective public services. It forms part of the overarching social partnership approach adopted in Wales.