Shortage of skilled labour major challenge

By Ivamere Nataro 29 December 2018, 12:00AM

The shortage of skilled labour continues to be a major challenge for the Government of Samoa.

Both Government agencies and development partners are aware of the growing crisis, says a report, which was recently published by the Public Service Commission. 

According to the report titled report “End of Term and Post Implementation Report - Public Administration Sector Plan 2013/14-2017/18”, the problem should be managed in order to build institutional knowledge in Samoa. 

“Skilled employee mobility (engineers, etc..) within Government and from Government to the private sector is now a trend, although there is no actual supporting data. 

“While this may be valuable in some cases, it needs to be managed to ensure the skills, knowledge and behaviours are transferred within the losing government agency to build institutional knowledge,” stated the report. 

In addition to the high-level plans, there were other initiatives developed by the commission to help address the shortage in technical skills.

“This included the formulation of specific salary frameworks for technical areas that are in constant need of skilled employees. 

“The Public Service Commission, in its role as the human resource advisor for Government, can only do what it is required to do under the Public Service Act 2004. 

“This presents an increasing need for Government agencies to work in a collaborative approach, as suggested in the One Public Sector-One Vision for good governance-One Policy paper. 

“Government employees, particularly the senior executive level, ought to encourage and promote a shared understanding of the broad policy objectives, and must be supported by ethical and strategic leadership, coalition-type mindset, trust and open-communication.” 

Developing a supportive and ethical culture continues to be a priority for government, added the report. 

The Government’s commitment to strengthening the WoG approach requires a public sector culture that values working across agency boundaries, interaction, and shared responsibilities.

The sector planning approach also “encouraged” some of the factors; while this may be the case, there is still more to be done to orientate public servants to think and act in a collaborative approach, rather than a silo mindset and behaviour. 

The report added that it is becoming increasingly important for the upper-senior level in Government to have performance indicators that cut across ministerial-boundaries, to discourage and prevent the risk of working in a silo. 

The work done by the Public Service Commission — in terms of incorporating WoG objectives from national planning documents into performance agreements — should be continued to reinforce a collaborative culture in the public service.

The development of Whole of Government (W.o.G.) strategic documents, such as the National Human Resource Development Plan 2015-2030 and subsequently the Clever Country Policy 2018-2058, aimed to provide direction for future planning and development of Samoa’s workforce at the national level. 

“The Clever Country Policy, in particular, looks at transforming Samoa into becoming a knowledge-based economy. In the absence of Government approval for both policies, agencies would need to be vigilant of human resource implications of each policy developed or planned, particularly technical skills that are not available locally,” stated the report.

By Ivamere Nataro 29 December 2018, 12:00AM

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