Gibson encourages career public servants to build core competencies

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Administrative Cadets: Acquiring Competencies to Serve Today and Preparing to Lead Tomorrow”

The Hon Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour and National Insurance speaking at the Ministry of Public Service Administrative Cadet Seminar, June 19.

Nassau, The Bahamas – Building core competences in career public servants is the primary focus of reinforcing employment equity in the Bahamian Labour Market.

On June 19, under the theme “Administrative Cadets: Acquiring Competencies to Serve Today and Preparing to Lead Tomorrow”, Minister of Labour and National Insurance, the Hon. Shane Gibson addressed the Administrative Cadet Seminar held by the Ministry of Public Service at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre.

“I take personal pride in the fact that so early in my tenure as Minister, the Ministry of the Public Service has responded so quickly and ably after the many years of outcry for a transformed, responsive and relevant Public Service,” said Minister Gibson.

In thanking the Cadets for having selected the Public Service as your career, Minister Gibson said the competence, integrity, and sensitivity of public service workers determines the quality of life for all of us. He told them that their ultimate goal should be to make The Bahamas the best place to live and grow.

“These aspirations are more likely to be achieved if we ensure that the Public Service is staffed with the right people in the right place at the right time. For this reason we are committed to developing and sustaining an organisational environment conducive to attracting and retaining the brightest and the best young people like those of you assembled here this morning,” said Minister Gibson.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, a generation is forty years. You, then, comprise the second generation of public officers post-Independence. The first generation operated under a Public Service system influenced by our colonial past and our northern and regional neighbours.”

Minister Gibson said that over the past 40 years The Bahamas has experienced an exponential growth in the numbers, diversity and level of education of its citizenry, rapid transformations to its values, as well as dynamic changes in its global relationships. He also said that the Public Service has also undergone many changes and the tides of change will continue to flow, encouraging the widespread interest in sustainable national development. He stressed that a dynamic and modern public service is essential to meet the changing demands and expectation of our society.

“One day my generation will pass the baton to your generation. Perhaps one of you will stand in the position I now hold. In this regard, our obligation is to continuously build capacity among the youth of the public service to serve today and to lead tomorrow in a world class Public Service that is uniquely Bahamian, responsive to the needs of our clients and relevant for a Bahamas that actively and significantly participates on the global stage.. This requires the acquisition of knowledge, honing of skills and the right attitudes,” said Minister Gibson.

Advising the cadets about what is expected of them, Minister Gibson separated the role of a public servant into the three categories of knowledge, skill, and attitude.

Minister of National Insurance, the Hon. Shane Gibson, is pictured with the Administrative Cadets, June 19, at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

“In order to have become an Administrative Cadet, you must have earned at least a first degree, but this is only the first tier. Our Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable Perry Gladstone Christie, in his initial charge to Permanent Secretaries in 2012, reminded that knowledge of your community, country (including its relationship with other countries) and the Public Service is paramount to the success of a Public Officer and the effectiveness of the public service they deliver,” said Minister Gibson.

“As you are no doubt aware, every member of the Public Service must do their part to implement the policies and priorities of the Government, efficiently, and effectively. Generally, the Government’s priorities are the focus of its budget and your task is to determine your Ministry’s role in their implementation. I charge you to familiarise yourselves with the budget contribution of every Minister of the Government for the fiscal year 2013/2014.”

Minister Gibson further advised the cadets to become acquainted with Government fiscal policies to fully understand the boundaries of their citizenship. He said they should obtain a copy of the recent contribution of the Honourable Prime Minister and become conversant with the details. He said they should know what is in it for themselves as individuals, for their families, and indeed for their communities because knowledge is power.

“Government’s business cannot be executed in a vacuum, but in accordance with the law. Therefore, to carry out your duties responsibly and effectively, become familiar with those areas of law that impact your work and terms and conditions of service. I challenge you to gain a working knowledge of the Constitution, Public Service Act, General Orders, and Public Service Commission Regulations as well as any other relevant Acts and their corresponding Regulations,” said Minister Gibson.

“As situations change and plans progress, competencies will be adjusted. It is therefore necessary to ensure that employees remain flexible or adaptable by engaging in continuous learning. I am advised one of the objectives of this special initiative is to provide opportunity for continuous learning and to encourage a personal commitment to professional development. There must be an awareness of the fact that today’s work affects tomorrow and that the onus is on each of you to develop a personal plan for your professional development and advancement. The primary responsibility is yours; we are here to help, to mentor, to coach, to encourage and to provide an enabling environment.”

Minister Gibson further said that the second tier of career development and one that complements knowledge is the development of the correct skill sets. He said excellent written and verbal communication techniques, teamwork, support and the work of inter-related Ministries, analytical skills, synergy, planning and execution of duties, as well,as the efficient management of time and priorities are among the top most attractive qualities of a career public servant.

“Your generation is technologically savvy. The downside is the loss of personal communication. In the Public Service, our clients in the main are human beings and some skills cannot become obsolete. It is the Government’s role to set priorities and policies. It is your role to articulate the policies and to find the best way to bring them to life in ways that will positively impact the stakeholders,” said Minister Gibson.

“An effective Public Service requires persons of integrity, persons who demonstrate initiative, accountability, sound ethical standards and who are able to produce excellent work without constant supervision. A country is judged by the character of its people and first and foremost its public servants. Moreover, I also wish to remind that as the second generation post-Independence it is your responsibility to be exemplars for the third generation and so it behoves you to engage in continuous self-examination.”

Minister Gibson said that knowledge and skills must be undergirded by attitude. He referred to an unknown author who wrote “To educate the mind and not the morals is to educate a menace to society”.

“You are members of the Public Service and ‘service’ must remain your by-word particularly to the public who pay your salaries. As interpersonal skills continue to deteriorate in our society, we are called to create and operate in environments of respect for supervisors, subordinates, colleagues and for diverse beliefs and cultures,” said Minister Gibson.

“Secondly, the advent of globalisation and the recent economic crisis have together placed a burden on all countries. The resultant effect is that each public officer must give value for money. At the end of every day, each of us must be satisfied that we have completed the required hours of work.”

Minister Gibson concluded by adding a third directive to complete the building of a public servant’s character. He said that Administrative Cadets are called to be helpful to those around them. He reminded that each person brings his own skill sets, which may not be that of academia or even similar to what they have.

“Everyone has not been afforded your opportunities in life, but everyone’s contributions have value. Let us strive to remain compassionate and empathetic,” said Minister Gibson.