Some reflections on the future of human talent in tax administrations

Covid 19 is producing dizzying changes in different aspects of tax administrations (TAs), which have accelerated their digitalization process affecting their structures, their functions, the relationship with citizens and of course their human resources.

Therefore, the objective of this blog is to try to think what the future of human talent in the TAs will be, basically in terms of what profiles of officials will be needed and with what skills they must have, in view of all the challenges that the future demands.

As for the changes in the structures, it stands out in many cases the reduction in the number of units that attend in-person to citizens and the emergence of new areas, such as data analytics, risk management, artificial intelligence (AI) among others.

In the functions. the main changes are taking place in the information and assistance with the virtual office and the new channels of contacts with citizens (digital presentations, apps, chatbots, etc.).

Electronic audits, video calls, risk management and mass use of information have also been enhanced.

We see how AI is being used in various functions, such as information and assistance, audits, case selection, customs, Collection, recovery, staff training.

Of course, directly linked to human resources, the main issues are linked to digital skills and new ways of developing tasks such as teleworking, which as I have been saying has come to stay in the TAs[1].

In short, we are witnessing the transition from a paper TA to an electronic and digital, all within an uncertain and changing reality, product of the ongoing pandemic.

The question I ask myself about it is how does this whole process affect human resources?

In this regard, first of all I think it is essential to analyze various aspects by making a diagnosis of each of them, what strengths and weaknesses exist and how they can be improved to achieve greater efficiency.

Thus, each TA should analyze its recruitment and selection processes, the topic of the administrative career, the evaluation of performance, remuneration and recognition and the importance of disciplinary control (ethics and integrity).

We should also analyze what skills, skills, and competencies are necessary for each task and of course how is the process of training, development, and retention of talent as we go towards a process of digitalized knowledge management.

This initial analysis is important, not only because not all TAs have the same human and material resources but also because the situation is very different in each country, which is why the context of action is key.

After that, new questions arise such as what professions will be needed?, what positions will be filled?, which employees will change tasks? will we be able to train all public servants with the new digital skills? and what digital skills will be needed?

The World Economic Forum’s future of employment report[2] maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change based on surveys of business leaders and HR strategists around the world. It says that some jobs will disappear as a result of automation, but new ones will emerge as a result of the robotics revolution within the next 5 years.[3]

Among the most sought-after skills for 2025, analytical thinking and innovation, learning, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, leadership, use and control of ICTs, resilience, tolerance, flexibility, emotional intelligence, customer orientation stand out. It is claimed that the most competitive companies will focus on improving the skills of their workers and that teleworking has come to stay.

With regard to the public sector, the report says that it must provide greater support for updating and improving the skills of workers at risk or displaced.

The public sector will need to create incentives for investment in tomorrow’s markets and jobs; provide stronger safety nets for displaced workers amid job transitions, and decisively address delayed improvements in education and training systems.

I consider as very important, what Alejandro Juárez stated opportunely [4]where he emphasizes the importance of aligning human talent with ICTs, which should enhance the institutional efficiency of the TAs, defining a new profile of public servants where digital skills have a lot of importance.

It should be noted that the European framework for digital skills[5] highlights information and digital literacy, communication, digital content creation, network security, problem solving.

Today everyone agrees to highlight the importance of the resilience of human talent to work from anywhere, learn and unlearn, reinvent themselves, change roles and permanently train with new digital skills and competencies.

In all this, it is essential to have digital and motivational leaders who are able to listen and learn from others and that encourage cooperation, teamwork, are oriented towards results and flexibility.

I understand that, at a minimum, there are two consequences for the human talent of the TAs.

On the one hand, many officials need to improve their digital skills and competencies because their current positions require it.

But on the other, there will be other officials who will have to prepare for new posts that are not yet created.

Considering the limitations in terms of material resources of many TAs, as well as the aging of its staff, I understand that reskilling will have a lot of significance as a process to retrain current officials through training, rather than looking for other professionals outside the TAs.

Within the whole process, with the current uncertainty that surrounds us, I understand there is a certainty, and that human resources are essential to carry out any process of digitalization and transformation of both the TAs and the state.

As Xavier Marcet says before, the strategy of organizations was linked to planning, but today it should also be linked to the innovation of ICTs and the constant learning capacity of their human resources.

I am convinced that ICTs are instruments that need optimization, and it is essential that the TAs renew and transform their concepts and paradigms.

We must rethink, adapt, and transform policies, services, and institutional architectures, according to the new needs of citizens, seeking maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

The future of work has accelerated exponentially and new forms of work such as teleworking can be a valuable tool for our TAs.

The real challenge for Human Resources will be to build flexible working models adapted to a very uncertain and changing reality.

I understand that, as much as cutting-edge TICs are incorporated, if the TAs does not bet on human talent, they will not be able to achieve the proposed objectives.

Nor do I believe that success will be achieved by only incorporating competent human resources into the New ICTs, but it will be necessary to manage the entire process with current human resources, where teamwork of officials from various professions will be vital.

The real key to digital transformation is the change management led by the human resources, as the success or failure of the whole process of the TAs will be a direct consequence of human resources, which without a doubt are their greatest asset, which always emphasized the importance of qualified, principled, self-motivated and with remuneration commensurate to the tasks.

As I always say, I leave the subject open to debate pending your valuable contributions.

[1] To expand this topic, see my articles on The digitalization of the Tax Administrations: An analysis of teleworking within the scenario of coronavirus forced restrictions. CIAT Blog 21/04/2020. What will be the future of telework in the tax administrations? CIAT Blog 16/05/2020. What will be the future of teleworking in Latin America and the Caribbean? Mercojuris. 1/09/2020.
[3] It is said that on the one hand 85 million jobs will disappear, but 97 million new jobs will emerge.
[4] Quo Vadis? Homo digitalis CIAT Blog 1/6/2020
[5] / digital competence involves the safe and critical use of Information Society (IT) technologies for work, leisure, and communication. It is based on basic ICT skills: the use of computers to obtain, evaluate, store, produce, present and exchange information, and communicate and participate in collaborative networks over the Internet”.


Disclaimer. Readers are informed that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, committee or other group the author might be associated with, nor to the Executive Secretariat of CIAT. The author is also responsible for the precision and accuracy of data and sources.

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