INOYO: Poorly Re­sourced Lead­ers Re­tard­ing Nation’s Growth

• ‘Labour Sur­plus Econ­omy Like Nige­ria Should Never Im­port Cer­tain Skills’ • Train­ing Should Not Be Wel­fare Pack­age, Re­ward For Loy­alty, Or An En­ti­tle­ment • Medi­ocrity Thriv­ing In The Sys­tem, Sy­co­phancy Al­most A Way Of Life • Civil Ser­vice Should Be Ve

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - INTERVIEW -

Pres­i­dent, and Chair­man of Coun­cil, Char­tered In­sti­tute of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (CIPM), Udom Uko Inoyo, in this in­ter­view with ENO-ABASI SUN­DAY, crit­i­cised the process of re­sourc­ing peo­ple into pub­lic ser­vice, stress­ing that mer­i­toc­racy must be in­sti­tu­tion­alised and cel­e­brated as this is the quick­est way to achieve ef­fec­tive re­sourc­ing and man­age­ment of peo­ple. He also said the in­sti­tute is col­lab­o­rat­ing with uni­ver­si­ties to re­lay to them, what the labour mar­ket re­ally needs, as well as the com­pelling need for the coun­try to em­brace tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion as well as en­trepreneur­ship stud­ies. AS reg­u­la­tor of hu­man re­source prac­tice, how both­ered is CIPM about ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment in the coun­try?

UN­EM­PLOY­MENT is a crit­i­cal is­sue and a big threat to any nation as it af­fects ev­ery as­pect of the so­ci­ety and the econ­omy. It leads to in­creased poverty, high crime rate, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity, and with th­ese, the in­vest­ment cli­mate is ad­versely im­pacted, re­sult­ing in re­duced in­vest­ment rate and slow eco­nomic growth. Un­em­ploy­ment could also lead to se­vere men­tal health con­di­tions amongst the un­em­ployed and even the em­ployed due to gen­eral stress, and en­vi­ron­men­tal pres­sure laced with un­cer­tain­ties. Un­for­tu­nately, men­tal health is an area, which we pay very lit­tle at­ten­tion to in our clime, even though the con­se­quences are dire. Un­em­ploy­ment should be a thing of con­cern to ev­ery­one be­cause no one is in­su­lated from the fall­out. This is what prompted us in

2015, in line with our man­date as the reg­u­la­tory body on hu­man re­source man­age­ment prac­tice in Nige­ria, to con­duct a re­search on un­em­ploy­ment is­sues in the coun­try. The re­search was quite suc­cess­ful and we made im­ple­mentable rec­om­men­da­tions to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers to help in curb­ing this men­ace. We be­lieve that an ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion to the un­em­ploy­ment chal­lenge would have its mul­ti­plier ef­fects on all the fac­tors men­tioned above and sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the health of the econ­omy and the so­ci­ety at large.

While there is still a lot to be done, we must com­mend the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for some of the pos­i­tive steps al­ready taken in her job cre­ation ef­forts, which cen­tres on pri­vate sec­tor driven strat­egy, while gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to pro­vide an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment with spe­cific fo­cus around a few pri­or­ity sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture/agro-al­lied, ICT, con­struc­tion, re­new­able en­ergy, and re­tail trade. It is very im­por­tant that other stake­hold­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor get in­volved in ad­dress­ing the cur­rent un­em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion.

Hav­ing said this, let me add that it is very wor­ri­some that some of­fices tend to be manned by peo­ple who are un­able to per­form at the ex­pected level. And even where you have some of our best and bright­est, they strug­gle to de­liver, since their ef­forts are eclipsed by the weak­nesses that sur­round them. The coun­try sim­ply can­not move for­ward with the wrong peo­ple be­ing re­sourced to take charge. I don’t know how many of you know who our coun­cil­lors, lo­cal gov­ern­ment chair­men or state leg­is­la­tors are, and their qual­i­fi­ca­tions/work ex­pe­ri­ence? Th­ese are peo­ple who are mak­ing laws and or gov­ern­ing the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Nige­ri­ans. I don’t know how many of you have ac­cessed a pub­lic school re­cently, to see those who are teach­ing the ma­jor­ity of Nige­rian chil­dren.

My point is this: The process of re­sourc­ing peo­ple into our pub­lic ser­vice is wrong. There was a time things worked prop­erly in this coun­try. A time when mer­i­toc­racy was in­sti­tu­tion­alised and cel­e­brated. A time when you could not be hired for any as­sign­ment with­out go­ing through a com­pet­i­tive process. That era is long gone but must be re­claimed if we need to make progress as a peo­ple. And I be­lieve the quick­est way to achieve this, is through ef­fec­tive re­sourc­ing and man­age­ment of peo­ple. This is where CIPM comes in. As a reg­u­la­tor of the pro­fes­sion that is re­spon­si­ble for peo­ple man­age­ment, we need to part­ner with gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers in sup­port­ing pro­cesses and pro­grammes lead­ing to a re­birth and drive for na­tional work­force de­vel­op­ment.

In the Man­ag­ing Na­tional Un­em­ploy­ment Chal­lenge Com­mit­tee (MNUC) sur­vey, that CIPM com­mis­sioned, the sub-op­ti­mal qual­ity of grad­u­ates tops the list of ma­jor causes of the high rate of un­em­ploy­ment.

What were some of the ma­jor re­com- men­da­tions?

The in­sti­tute’s re­search made rec­om­men­da­tions on how to man­age skills mis­match, and re­duce the num­ber of un­em­ploy­able grad­u­ates in the nation. Th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions range from en­sur­ing an in­te­grated in­tern­ship be­tween academia and in­dus­try; im­prov­ing the qual­ity and stan­dards of the ed­u­ca­tion cur­ric­ula; pro­vid­ing pol­icy frame­work, to fund­ing for de­vel­op­ment and sus­te­nance of en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills.

How­ever, let me point out that th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions are not ex­haus­tive as there are other ini­tia­tives that could be ex­plored as op­tions. For ex­am­ple, Re­verse sab­bat­i­cal: This is a pro­gramme that pro­vides a plat­form for in­dus­try lead­ers to go to in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing to share in­dus­try knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence with stu­dents in those in­sti­tu­tions. In the same vein, the academia should also go to in­dus­tries for their sab­bat­i­cal. This will boost cross learn­ing and en­rich class­room dis­cus­sions and teach­ing, as prac­ti­cal cases of knowl­edge ap­pli­ca­tion with re­sults would be shared.

Rein­tro­duc­tion or re­in­force­ment of ca­reer coun­selling in se­condary schools: The truth is that most stu­dents in our in­sti­tu­tions to­day opted to study the avail­able cour­ses just to gain ad­mis­sion, and this is still the case with prospec­tive new en­trants. In most cases, prospec­tive un­der­grad­u­ates ac­cept what­ever cour­ses of­fered to them by the ad­mis­sions author­i­ties, or sug­gested by friends and par­ents, re­gard­less of their ar­eas of in­ter­ests and pas­sion. Many may not even have pre­req­ui­site knowl­edge about the cour­ses they are ad­mit­ted to study, and that is why they end up just get­ting the de­gree and do noth­ing with it af­ter­wards. Good ca­reer coun­selling at the se­condary school level will give the stu­dents some fore­sight into the cour­ses, help­ing them to align their in­ter­ests with avail­able course of study, and prob­a­bly pre­pare them for choices and some of the chal­lenges ahead.

Ap­point­ment of good course ad­vis­ers: Part of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of aca­demic course ad­vis­ers is to guide stu­dents through their aca­demic chal­lenges. The cri­te­ria for the ap­point­ment of th­ese course ad­vis­ers should be clear and should apart from req­ui­site coun­selling knowl­edge, in­clude emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, patience, and ef­fec­tive lis­ten­ing. Vol­un­teerism: This is also an op­tion, for un­em­ployed grad­u­ates. For in­stance, I am sure there is al­ways some­thing to be done around The­guardian News­pa­per of­fice. So if I were to be a grad­u­ate of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion or Jour­nal­ism, why would I just stay at home, rather than come here to vol­un­teer my time? There is a lot to be gained from be­ing in a work en­vi­ron­ment and learn­ing from se­nior pro­fes­sion­als. Would it not be a nice idea if your in­sti­tute col­lab­o­rates with uni­ver­si­ties to re­lay to them what the labour mar­ket re­ally needs?

We are al­ready en­gag­ing dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties on a va­ri­ety of mat­ters, in­clud­ing how to en­hance the em­ploy­a­bil­ity of Nige­rian grad­u­ates. We are also al­ready col­lab­o­rat­ing with a few uni­ver­si­ties for an in­clu­sive cur­ricu­lum. Ul­ti­mately, the in­sti­tute is work­ing with the Na­tional Uni­ver­si­ties Com­mis­sion (NUC), to get some of our rec­om­men­da­tions and ideas

My point is this: The process of re­sourc­ing peo­ple into our pub­lic ser­vice is wrong. There was a time things worked prop­erly in this coun­try. A time when mer­i­toc­racy was in­sti­tu­tion­alised and cel­e­brated. A time when you could not be hired for any as­sign­ment with­out go­ing through a com­pet­i­tive process. That era is long gone but must be re­claimed if we need to make progress as a peo­ple.

spread across all uni­ver­si­ties.

Is there any syn­ergy be­tween the Man­ag­ing Na­tional Un­em­ploy­ment re­port, and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s agenda on job cre­ation?

Yes. There is syn­ergy be­tween the rec­om­men­da­tions in the in­sti­tute’s re­port and the gov­ern­ment’s agenda on job cre­ation. For in­stance, Section 5.4 of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 is on Job Cre­ation and Youth Em­pow­er­ment. Rec­om­men­da­tions in our sur­vey re­port ad­dresses this section of the plan.

While coun­tries are em­brac­ing tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, as well as, en­trepreneur­ship stud­ies, Nige­ria is yet to get se­ri­ous with this. How long will it take be­fore this ne­glect be­gins to hurt us?

The ne­glect of tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion is al­ready hurt­ing us. The in­sti­tute’s study recog­nises this. Ne­glect­ing tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion is per­haps one of the rea­sons for the im­por­ta­tion of tech­ni­cal skills from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. A labour sur­plus econ­omy like Nige­ria should not have any rea­son to im­port cer­tain skills if we are truly mon­i­tor­ing and man­ag­ing un­em­ploy­ment. For ex­am­ple, if you visit some of the build­ing sites with on­go­ing con­struc­tion projects, you will re­alise that a lot of the work­ers are from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

In ad­di­tion, the short­age of tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise is part of the chal­lenges pre­vent­ing the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of Lo­cal Con­tent Act 2010 in the coun­try. So we can­not over em­pha­sise the need to re­visit and re­vamp tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion in Nige­ria. I al­ways tell young folks that the era of white shirt and tie is gone. Peo­ple need to get their hands dirty and take pride in any job that they do. The hous­ing sec­tor is still un­tapped in Nige­ria and yet we are not pre­pared for the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Build­ings don’t have straight lines, tiling is a prob­lem, painters are in a hurry and plumbers are un­avail­able. What of the power sec­tor with huge skilled and semi-skilled op­por­tu­ni­ties?

In what spe­cific ways can a coun­try’s civil ser­vice make or mar its de­vel­op­men­tal ef­forts and as­pi­ra­tions?

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the suc­cess or oth­er­wise of any nation de­pends on the per­for­mance of the peo­ple in the civil ser­vice, which is why in coun­tries like Australia, United King­dom, Swe­den and Nor­way, they take re­cruit­ment into the civil ser­vice very se­ri­ously. And it used to be so in Nige­ria un­til, as with most other in­sti­tu­tions, we em­barked on a jour­ney of de­cline. When I started my ca­reer in the erst­while Cross River State Civil Ser­vice, the on­board­ing was so pro­fes­sion­ally done that right from day one, my ca­reer tra­jec­tory, sub­ject to good per­for­mance and abil­ity to pass some im­por­tant ex­am­i­na­tions, was pre­dictable. There was mer­i­toc­racy. But un­for­tu­nately, we threw away merit and ex­pected that civil ser­vants will per­form op­ti­mally. It doesn’t work that way. It’s been 28 years since I joined the pri­vate sec­tor, but re­cent events in the civil ser­vice give me some hope. I know that there’s been a cou­ple of re­forms tar­geted at the civil ser­vice in the last few decades, but the 2017-2019 Strate­gic Plan, if al­lowed to be prop­erly stew­arded by the Head of Ser­vice of the Fed­er­a­tion and her staff, will help up­lift the qual­ity of ser­vice de­liv­ery, which will have sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the de­vel­op­ment of Nige­ria. From my in­ter­ac­tion, I be­lieve the Head of Ser­vice has what it takes to drive this plan suc­cess­fully, but she needs the sup­port of all stake­hold­ers.

An­other in­di­ca­tor of im­prove­ment in the civil ser­vice is the re­cent ap­point­ment of al­most two dozens of fed­eral per­ma­nent sec­re­taries. It is ob­vi­ous that the process was quite elab­o­rate: a screen­ing process, which in­cluded a writ­ten ex­am­i­na­tion, com­puter-based test, and a ro­bust oral in­ter­view. At the end, it threw up the best can­di­dates de­void of ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ences. I am en­cour­aged by what Mrs. Winifred Oyo-ita is do­ing and would im­plore many of us in the pri­vate sec­tor to sign up as ad­vo­cates for the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of this strate­gic plan. CIPM will col­lab­o­rate and help her drive some of her de­liv­er­ables. Don’t for­get that we all gain if the pub­lic sec­tor is prop­erly man­aged.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment re­cently said that train­ing of pub­lic ser­vants would no longer be a wel­fare pack­age used to douse labour ten­sions, since the gov­ern­ment was not get­ting the true value for the money spent on the ex­er­cise, in terms of the qual­ity of out­put. How can this make a bad sit­u­a­tion worse?

That the gov­ern­ment is ac­knowl­edg­ing this is bad enough, but it is cer­tainly the right call. You only get into this sort of sit­u­a­tion, where there is ei­ther the ab­sence of a struc­ture (which I am sure is not the case), or a di­min­ish­ing of the im­por­tance of mer­i­toc­racy. In or­der not to be misun­der­stood, let me state up­front that train­ing is good and must be a nec­es­sary part of an em­ployee’s ca­reer stew­ard­ship. But what is equally im­por­tant is to de­ter­mine the tim­ing and ben­e­fits of such train­ing, ei­ther fol­low­ing an es­tab­lished com­pe­tency as­sess­ment model (you need this to equip you for the next level), or a de­sire to cure a de­fect (you are weak in this area, so we will help you go and re­tool). But train­ing should never be a ticket for hol­i­days, or to ob­tain trav­el­ing al­lowance or used as an in­cen­tive to set­tle labour is­sues. Just imag­ine what hap­pens if one is in the wrong train­ing class, and un­able to cope? The em­bar­rass­ment is ours, as a peo­ple. I know most peo­ple en­joy go­ing for pro­grammes abroad, but please be sure it is the right one. Train­ing should not in any way be a wel­fare pack­age, re­ward for loy­alty or an en­ti­tle­ment. It should be based on the out­come of a thor­ough Train­ing Need Anal­y­sis (TNA), and tai­lored to the skill and com­pe­tency gaps iden­ti­fied. Train­ing Need Anal­y­sis helps or­gan­i­sa­tions, min­istries, de­part­ments and agen­cies de­ter­mine the ar­eas where train­ing is re­ally re­quired and also high­lights the ar­eas where al­ter­na­tive cour­ses of ac­tion could be taken to close the skills and com­pe­tency gaps iden­ti­fied. Lastly, don’t for­get there is also need to man­age cost, in which case, we can do­mes­ti­cate th­ese train­ing pro­grammes in coun­try, es­pe­cially given the ex­cel­lent train­ing fa­cil­i­ties we have and the ben­e­fits of cap­tur­ing a lot more par­tic­i­pants.

CIPM un­der your lead­er­ship has promised to part­ner the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on the best ways to tackle eco­nomic and busi­ness chal­lenges, us­ing hu­man re­source man­age­ment as a tool for sus­tain­abil­ity. How do you in­tend to go about this?

The part­ner­ship has been on­go­ing and I will only in­tro­duce new pro­grammes to sus­tain the mo­men­tum. Our most re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts started with the La­gos State gov­ern­ment per­son­nel in the State Civil Ser­vice HR and Ad­min­is­tra­tion cadre. This set of per­son­nel suc­cess­fully went through a pro­fes­sional course and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process with the in­sti­tute and were duly cer­ti­fied. We in­tend to repli­cate this ini­tia­tive in other states. At the mo­ment, we are en­gag­ing three state gov­er­nors.

We are also lever­ag­ing on the ini­tia­tives mapped out in the Na­tional Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan 2017-2020, par­tic­u­larly the fo­cus on some key sec­tors of the econ­omy to drive re­cov­ery and es­tab­lish real growth that will lead to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. To fur­ther a dis­course on this im­por­tant frame­work, the Min­is­ter of Bud­get and Plan­ning, Udoma Udo Udoma, will be speak­ing at our an­nual con­fer­ence com­ing up in Oc­to­ber.

Given the glar­ing need for hu­man ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment across var­i­ous sec­tors of the econ­omy, how is the in­sti­tute po­si­tioned to help?

Through­out the year, we pro­vide sev­eral fora for na­tional dis­course at many lev­els in­clud­ing at our na­tional con­fer­ences, an­nual pub­lic lec­tures, sec­to­rial fora, stake­hold­ers en­gage­ment round-ta­bles, and a host of the CIPM high-pro­file events. At th­ese events, we en­gage the pub­lic and the gov­ern­ment on top­i­cal peo­ple man­age­ment is­sues, by fa­cil­i­tat­ing dis­cus­sions around th­ese chal­lenges and de­velop pos­si­ble so­lu­tions from a pro­fes­sional point of view. We plan to make some of th­ese con­ver­sa­tions more ac­ces­si­ble to a wider au­di­ence by lever­ag­ing on tech­nol­ogy, vir­tual class­rooms and we­bi­nars, to de­liver them. We be­lieve that the more we pay at­ten­tion to is­sues in the work place, the bet­ter we will push the en­ve­lope on hu­man cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment, whether in the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor.

I al­ways tell young folks that the era of white shirt and tie is gone. Peo­ple need to get their hands dirty and take pride in any job that they do. The hous­ing sec­tor is still un­tapped in Nige­ria and yet we are not pre­pared for the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Build­ings don’t have straight lines, tiling is a prob­lem, painters are in a hurry and plumbers are un­avail­able. What of the power sec­tor with huge skilled and semi­skilled op­por­tu­ni­ties?

Inoyo

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