Human Resource Development in Sierra Leone

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Alusine M. Kanu DA

The direction and utilization of human resources development, a goal of the democratic system of government, has focuses on the repercussions for the short and long term development of Sierra Leone. The purpose of this report is to examine those forces in the socioeconomic environment in Sierra Leone that determine well-thought-out goals of his Excellency, President Earnest Koroma. Research indicates the democratic government of the Sierra Leone has a clear understanding of expectations with patience, faith in the potential of others and respect for individual differences. The framework provided in this report contain useful tools in dealing with complex problems with presentable solution options. The presentation will highlight trends, the human resource wheel with analysis and implications.

We are in an age of great emphasis on productivity. In view of scarce resources, “productivity” is one of those concepts that are easy to understand while elusive to attain. There are some productivity gains achieved through education, training and development. But the most profound advances will come from the organization’s human resources: its people. Because of many uncertainties, productivity advances will primarily be a result of people and their relationship to work. This report deals with the significant trends as a human resource development (HRD) practitioner that the current administration and the people of Sierra Leoneans are prepared to address, observe, encounter, experience and consider in the short and long term if we are to be more progressive and productive.

The trends include the reality that the rater of change is accelerating at an incredible pace, and we are all bumping along in its shock waves. However, we do not always notice what is causing the bumping. This accelerated rate of change is especially true administration, training, development and in educational communities. Trends affect us before we know it. And, trends are like ocean waves, we tend to focus on the approaching one without even noticing the bigger, rougher wave behind it. Of course, sometime the biggest wave is even farther out, and there is nothing in between of consequence. Some of the trends affecting us include the computer revolution, adult education and the life-long learner, the increasing internationalization of business, the transformation of the work force into knowledge workers, courses and seminars with curricula and libraries and educative media, the increasing sophistication of the buyer and sensitivity to fads, and the interdependence of the public and private sectors.

Trend 1: The computer revolution

The computer revolution is often compared to the industrial revolution, one doing for the mind what the other has done for the muscle. Some implications of the computer revolution are that:

  • Learning will occur at the “teachable” moment.

  • Children are being raised on it.

  • The fount of knowledge in the classroom will be replaced.

  • Personal and work use will intertwine.

  • Every manager will become “computer literate.”

  • Potential for “dehumanizing” the work place is high.

  • The transformation will affect quantity, not quality.

The computer will make data gathering extremely easy, but it will have no such salutary effect on data use. Indeed, the qualitative use of data may well be more difficult than ever. It is a fallacy, therefore, to expect the computer to make decision making easier.

Trend 2: Adult education and the life-long learner

Unlike children whose life experiences are more limited by virtue of their age, adults bring a rich array of life experiences. Many adult learners are seasoned. They have done it all and seen it all, or so they think. A challenge for human resource professionals is to recognize and use their trainees’ experiences to facilitate the learning process. One of the general rules of training is that “it’s better to get a message out of someone rather than put one in them.” New competition in adult education is developing that includes firms, training companies, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, professional services companies, graduate and undergraduate schools, profit-driven firms, textbook and other publishing companies, consulting firms, correspondence schools, computer manufacturers, software writers and publisher and training departments.

Trend 3: The increasing internationalization of business

Pressures from developing nations for equity and for a new economic relationship should mean, among other things, that there will be great training needs at all levels of business. As economics mature, we see a corresponding HRD maturation, which moves in this sequence:

  • Emergence from agrarian society = Basic literary skills
  • Rudimentary industrialization = Manual job skills
  • Secondary industrialization = Automation skills
  • Entry into competitive markets = Management skills
  • Advent of computerization = Knowledge transfer skills
  • Endurance and stability = Strategic skills

This trend will be one of the prime reasons why HRD should be among the growth industries.

Trend 4: The transformation of the work force into knowledge workers.

The term knowledge worker has been defined in a variety of ways. Basically; it refers to a worker whose entire job is the accumulation, transfer, validation, analysis, and creation of information. The knowledge worker at all levels of the organization might constitute the largest potential human resource market of all. How will the attitudes of these people be shaped, their expertise used, their skills developed to contribute to the organization? The shift to knowledge jobs means the human resources should provide the climate to transform the work force into knowledge workers by assessing and implementing technical and professional development.

The fact is that education and development are big businesses. There are ample indications of the growing power of this trend. The quality of life remains a key concern of the work force. Education enhances the quality of life. The combination of the enhanced learning and the greater need created by the adult learner market will have an enormous impact on everyone connected with human resource development. Education, training, career development, and other areas are going to lose their separate identities and will become parts of an integrated, comprehensive system. The adult learner will be approached by a variety of sources and alternatives. And personal and professional growth will become part of a coordinated, holistic approach.

Trend 5: Courses and seminars with curricula and libraries and educative media

“Plug Compatibility” is occurring in human resources. The more participants going through the programs with contractual agreements, the more cost effective and productive the HRD programs will be for the client. The implications are fairly clear. Organizations making major investments in human resource development might well choose to adhere to plug compatible approaches by plugging into another and should not ignore smaller vendors who could find themselves isolated. Companies seeking to create economics of scale and uniformity in their approach to human resource development will probably move in the direction of providing access to educational discussions, seminars, libraries, video tapes and films that will encompass any variety of media.

Trend 6: The increasing sophistication of the buyer and sensitivity to fads

The truth is that human resource development has some very valid aspects and is very useful in certain situations to address certain needs. The effect of quality circles is an embodiment of the search for solutions that deal with uncertainties about work and a quality life style. Most serious HRD professionals are realizing that the most efficacious development of people occurs when they are shown what they already do well and are helped to repeat those skills as often as possible. Training will be subject to the same kind of return on investment scrutiny that other efforts are subject to.

Trend 7: The interdependence of the public and private sectors

Should public and private sectors be interdependent? Government regulations, multinational business dealings, and “corporate citizenship” are among the reasons of this emphasis. Timing, the nature of decision making, problem solving, budget provisions, pluralism, and varying constituencies all combine to differentiate the two areas. There seems to be a trend among not-for-profit organizations of every type to embrace a profit-oriented management style. The rationales seems to be that the responsibility for the bottom line, productivity and organizational effectiveness have turned out to be areas where nonprofits admit that they can learn from the private sector. More sophisticated, goal-oriented techniques are needed. “Third sector” organizations – schools, hospitals, community groups, foundations, museums, mosques, churches, social organizations, and professional partnerships also face challenges. While they all have some unique needs, they must also deal with the management of people, money, and markets.

The implications of this trends include the following:

  • Professional scientists, chemist, doctors, and others who are in management positions need to be skilled in management, sometimes divorced from their previous professional expertise. This will be a most sophisticated, mature, and perhaps experienced group of learners who can be worked with general systems.

  • Training and education will have to be individualized, tailored, and modularized to the time demands and work habits. What one learns might be in relation to career experiences

  • “Cultural” training might be required to assist public and private sector managers at all levels to deal with each other and with each others environments. Values, principles of civil discourse, the ability to produce and consume information should be considered in program design and development.

My research indicates that these are the trends that are being felt, and there are reasonable data to support that they will have a major influence on human resource development. Only by continually scrutinizing awareness and preparing for future developments as well as examining effectiveness will we be able to meet the great challenges ahead. The seven trends are really a mosaic of interrelated forces which will affect human resources. The HRD professional should become involved in what may be termed a “holistic humanism,” meaning an approach to the learner that considers the whole person and the entirety of his or her learning and development needs. The HRD practitioner will be responsible for bringing the power of the organization to bear on these issues. Conversely, the abilities of the individuals must be focused on the pressures affecting the organization.

Possible considerations and analysis in dealing with trends might be demonstrated by the human resource wheel which specifies with definitions of areas of practice.

  • Training and Development

    Training and development involves identifying, assessing and thorough planned learning, helping develop the key competencies which enable individuals to perform current or future jobs.

  • Organizational Development

    Measuring Inter and Intra Unit relationships and helping groups initiate and manage change.

  • Organizational Design

    Defining how tasks, authority and systems will be organized and interpreted across organization units and in individual jobs.

  • Human Resource Planning

    Planning involves determining the organization’s major human resource needs, strategies, and philosophies.

  • Selection and Staffing

    Selection and Staffing includes matching people and their career needs and capabilities with jobs and career paths.

  • Personnel Research and Information Systems

    Assuring a personnel information base.

  • Compensation and Benefits

    Assuring compensation and benefits fairness and consistency

  • Employee Assistance

    Employee assistance includes providing personnel problem solving, counseling to individual employees.

  • Union – Labor Relations

    Labor relations involve measuring healthy union – organization relationships.

Prescription of the HRD is the exploration of the components of a systematic and holistic approaches:

  •  Take a strategic, as well as operational view of HRD. Determine philosophy and basic beliefs of the functions and evaluate anticipated needs and develop resources in preparation for such needs.
  • Specify the role of HRD within the overall strategy of the organization.

  • Help train others to think and act strategically. Take the lead in exploring alternatives and disseminating information about tackling strategic issues.

  • Stay abreast of general business developments

  • Study the relationships of people to their work. Physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Approach “the whole job” and “the whole person”.

  • Take a longer view. Reject fads and quick fixes and understand that every solution will bring its own set of problems.

We are in the midst of trends in human knowledge of perhaps unprecedented power. HRD can play the pivotal role in enabling Sierra Leoneans to understand these trends and consider the HR wheel that can be used as opportunities. It might be a time of uncertainties, but it is also a time of great challenge and potential for bettering the conditions of the workplace and the people in it. The basic competencies of HR if developed might provide synthesis of the state of the art concepts and technology in planning design and implementation. The emphasis will be to achieve Sierra Leone’s organization’s strategic goals through the effective utilization of human resources.

Source by Dr Alusine Melvin Moseray Kanu
Dr Alusine Melvin Moseray Kanu

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