The excitement obvious from the media reports on December 19 on the graduation of the first batch of cadets from the Civil Service Training College is quite understandable; I join in congratulating the graduates and their tutors and believe that all Guyanese will be looking to see what impact such training will have on the day-to-day delivery of services to the public.
Without wishing to throw cold water on the obvious enthusiasm emanating from the graduation, I do not think it is premature to warn about the possibility of negatives resulting from putting bubbling, effervescing, new wine (as per the graduates) into old wine skins (as per the heavily bureaucratic, anachronistic systems and reported indifference among established civil servants).
The current civil service with its heavy establishment of civil servants set in their comatose ways cannot be discounted; old attitudes and a modus operandi die hard. For the newly trained civil servants who would naturally be expecting a mostly conducive and enabling environment for the application of their newly acquired knowledge and skills, it could be demotivating if not disastrous if they experience too many bottlenecks at the operational levels.
It is for such situations that many organizations realistically initiate their staff training from the top, and prioritize focus on the current establishment (as opposed to entrants or new-comers); it is a more promising way to obtain ‘buy-in’ across the organization where the established human resources welcome change and embrace newcomers and new approaches. Even better still, is the spin-off when current managers and supervisors are trained as trainers and assume the responsibility for the effectiveness of the attitudinal, behavioural and systemic changes expected from the training activities.
The cadets or trainees need mentors to help with the application of their learning; this will not be forthcoming if the current managerial/ supervisory staff are themselves operating in the old ways of doing things and are not seized with the need for change among and by themselves.
Simply put: training should start at the top, especially when the focus is on attitudes; and it is no secret that the major problems in the civil service are attitudinal for which the top echelons must be trained and held accountable.