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6.3. Learning and development in the civil service

The civil service – together with the whole economy – experiences rapid changes in the type of work it carries out and, more significantly, how that work is executed. This often requires employees with new skills that can be achieved either through the recruitment of people with those new skills, the training and development of existing employees and the application of mobility schemes inside the civil service or the broader public service. Traditionally the civil service applied a career-based model of human resources management with recruitment at the entry level – often with the use of rigorous exams and other selection processes – and the development of civil servants through specific training. With the advent of New Public Management, the new skills requirements and the long periods of training needed to acquire some of those new skills led to the expansion of position-based hiring, especially for in-demand and hard-to-fill occupations, e.g. IT professionals, data scientists, etc. In many OECD countries it became the dominant system.

Unfortunately when budget cuts are needed, such as during the recent period of austerity in OECD countries, often the training budget is one of the first line items to be cut (OECD, 2016). Nevertheless, strategic and targeted learning and development investments are essential for the public service to keep up with rapid technological changes and the growing demand of citizens for quality public services. Learning and development opportunities are also key to attract people to the civil service and motivate them to be high-performing civil servants.

In the Western Balkan region, all those responded to the survey indicated to have a civil service-wide training strategy, while among the OECD countries only 63% developed those and the OECD-EU countries 64%. Four Western Balkans – Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia – have translated the civil service-wide strategy into organisational learning plans and also in four – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia – civil servants are required to develop individual learning plans. In the OECD and the OECD–EU countries organisational learning plans are significantly more prevalent with 71% and 68% of countries having those plans, while individual learning plans are required in 51% and 50% of countries.

Looking across the region at priorities with regard to training and competency development, two leading areas are: 1) the whole of government training strategy (in all except Bosnia and Herzegovina); and 2) monitoring and evaluation of training investment (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Northern Macedonia). These two areas have a much higher priority in the region than in the OECD and the OECD–EU. Conversely, executive leadership training and coaching, and online course development were of slightly less importance in the region than in the OECD and OECD-EU ones. IT and digital skills training is included in the top priorities only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, below the OECD (50%) and OECD-EU countries (57%).

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Methodology and definitions

Data were collected through the 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government. The survey was completed in 2019 in the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and in 2016 by 36 OECD countries.

Further reading

OECD (2019), Recommendation of the Council on Public Service Leadership and Capability, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0445.

OECD (2017), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

OECD (2016), Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267190-en.

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6.5. Learning and development initiatives in central administrations, 2019
6.5. Learning and development initiatives in central administrations, 2019

Source: OECD (2019), 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government; For the OECD average and the OECD-EU average, OECD (2019), Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934129239

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6.6. Training priorities in central administrations, 2019

 

A “whole-of-government” training strategy

Monitoring and evaluation of training investment

Executive leadership training and coaching

Online course development (e-learning, m-learning, blended learning)

Training for middle management

Co-ordination mechanisms for civil service training (e.g. across ministries/agencies)

Special development programs

IT/digital skills training

Albania

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kosovo

Montenegro

North Macedonia

Serbia

● Yes

❍ No

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Source: OECD (2019), 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government; For the OECD average and the OECD-EU average, OECD (2019), Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934129258

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