n Journal of Public Administration - Developing a more credible, relevant and effective delivery model for training and development in the public sector

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



"People are the lifeblood of any organisation and the agents of reform and renewal in public administration. The knowledge, skills, values and attitudes of public servants are at the heart of state reform". If this statement is true, then the challenge facing the South African government, and other developmental states, in terms of building the human resources capacity of the state, is enormous. In particular, we need to harness and develop the capabilities of the public sector to meet our service delivery improvement imperatives, as articulated in the President's call for the "... mobilisation of the public sector to speed up social transformation"

There are a number of factors militating against successful skills formation and the elimination of skills shortages in the public sector, which need to be addressed. The greatest of these is probably the fact that training is very often of doubtful relevance, rarely focused on carry-through impact, rarely accompanied by post-course support and implementation; often facilitated or taught by people who have a very limited understanding of the public sector. There is an urgent need to focus on the cost-effectiveness and quality of training in the public sector, in order to ensure that the quality and relevance of training are commensurate with government's expectations and priorities. In particular, we need to focus on the link between learning and performance improvement, at how the skills and capability of our human resources are affected by and affect the efficacy (or not) of the entity and the environment within which we operate, in terms of the ability of the government to deliver on the objectives of the developmental state.
An understanding of how public servants learn effectively, and what needs to change in order to improve public servants' ability to apply new learning within their context, is central to ensuring the sustainability of the reform process, and to building the capability of the state. The paper will unpack the 'who, what and how' of human resource development, and present a number of assumptions which will be tested in the implementation of a wide ranging project currently underway at SAMDI.

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