In 2011, the South African government adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) – Vision 2030. Chapter 13 of the NDP calls for the building of a capable and developmental State. The vision articulated in this chapter is for a well-run and effectively coordinated state institutions with skilled public servants who are committed to the public good and capable of delivering consistently high quality services while prioritising the nation’s developmental objectives. This vision calls for professional, disciplined, loyal, and committed public servants who possess the necessary skills and competencies to do their work. In order to achieve Vision 2030, the public sector must have a strong cadre of public sector trainers and facilitators who are themselves well capacitated to be able to empower other public servants with requisite skills, competencies and attributes.
The National School of Government (NSG) together with provincial role players, convenes the Public Sector Trainers’ Forum (PSTF) conference on an annual basis, attended by Human Resource Development (HRD) practitioners from the three spheres of government and different areas on civil society, with the intention to afford public sector trainers, facilitators, and researchers an opportunity to reflect critically on their roles in the context of building a capable and developmental State. This year’s conference focused on the endeavours that trainers make to achieve results that can make an impact on socio economic development of the country. This is viewed from the premise that trainers are key in providing training that is futuristic to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and help the country to counter the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
At this year’s event, 119 departments and organisations were represented by 485 delegates. The three day conference saw the support Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Senzo Mchunu, as the key note address, emphasising on public expectation from the 6th Administration. “The values and principles of public administration are a mix of compliance,learning and developmental aspirations. There is an expectation that the Public Service should meet people’s needs without fail”, articulated the Minister. The Minister reminded HR practitioners that government training interventions should have a meaningful socio-economic impact and tangible impact on service delivery. “Each and every one of the citizens we serve has a legitimate expectation to receive quality services. However, these expectations would not be met if the Public Service is not positioned and attuned to the notion of service”, said Minister Mchunu.
The successful conference was supported by the European Union (EU), the NSG’s official partner in capacity building towards realising the aspirations within the NDP, together with the National Skills Authority (NSA). The EU support provided to the NSG is funding of €10 million to roll out training to the entire public sector and to aspire to levels of excellence though teaching, training and research. Dr Bernard Rey, the Head of Corporation for EU Delegation in South Africa, gave a message support for the conference and wished the NSG to have successful deliberations.
The PSTF is comprised of an advisory committee, represented by government HRD practitioners from all provincial conferences. The PSTF Advisory Committee is elected every three years, by HR practitioners in provinces. This year, a new term for new PSTF advisory members began, and was inaugurated by the Minister, as the new members where sworn in. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to
- Strengthen the governance structures of the PSTF;
- Coordinate the implementation of HRD policy;
- Establish partnerships;
- Providing opportunities for development for HRD
Furthermore, members stand as a link between the NSG and provinces, from a skills and training point of view. In this way, the NSG is able to be alerted of the expectations around skills and training needs in provinces, and the challenges they may be facing which the NSG can assist in mitigating.
From papers presented on all the three days of the conference, the following were recommendations made by the different Commissions:
National School of Government (NSG)
- NSG to create an APP for eLearning courses to improve accessibility
- NSG to engage National Treasury to issue a directive to circumvent competitive bidding processes for courses offered by NSG which are public sector related
- NSG to follow on the Minister’s request for research in relation the “professionalisation” of the Public Service construct and advise the Ministry
- NSG to ensure eLearning has advanced cyber security to identify a unique user to minimise the risk of people asking others to do the work for them
- Unique user number/profile