copy the linklink copied! 5.6. Competency management and development

The public sector needs civil servants with the right skills to address increasingly complex problems. Competency management helps governments clarify the abilities (including skills, knowledge and behaviours) needed for a given position, and creates a standard against which to measure effective employee performance. Integrating competencies into a framework used to select, develop and promote civil servants allows human resources management (HRM) to develop strategic workforce planning, and employees to develop their career plans.

Competency management is a high priority in six of the nine SEA countries surveyed (Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand), and a lower priority in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and Viet Nam. All also have a specific competency framework for senior managers, and eight countries (all except the Philippines) have a framework for civil servants.

The central HRM unit is responsible for preparing competency frameworks in most SEA and OECD countries. In Thailand, HR and departmental senior managers are also involved. In Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam, inter-ministerial working groups also contribute. The same is true in 43% of OECD countries. Japan and New Zealand are the only OECD countries where preparing a competency framework is the sole responsibility of inter-ministerial working groups. Trade union representatives are never involved in any of the SEA countries.

As countries adopt competency management approaches, in recognition that both hard and soft skills are crucial to civil service performance, a key question is whether civil services can map and develop the skills needed in their central governments. In SEA and OECD countries, the arrangements to promote learning for the central public administration vary widely. Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia each have a single government institution or national school of government with this function, such as Cambodia’s Royal School of Administration and the Indonesian National Institute of Public Administration. In Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines and Singapore, responsibilities for civil service learning are shared by several government institutions centrally. In Lao PDR and Viet Nam, these responsibilities are delegated to ministry/department/agency level. In the OECD countries in the region, there is usually more than one institution responsible for competency management. In addition, seven SEA countries have a civil service-wide training strategy to co-ordinate and align training across organisations. The same is true in 47% of OECD countries, including Australia, Korea and Japan.

The most frequently mentioned competencies in SEA countries suggest that civil servants are expected to be leaders and professionals with strong ethical values, which are also among the most common competencies in OECD countries. Seven of the eight SEA countries that include leadership in their competency frameworks (all except Viet Nam) prioritise training and coaching for the executive leadership and four prioritise training for middle managers (Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore). Likewise, developing leaders’ competencies is one of the main priorities in Australia, Korea and New Zealand among OECD countries in the region; training for middle managers is a priority in Australia and Japan. Although most SEA countries prioritise the development of digital skills (six countries), investing in digital skills is not a priority for any of the OECD countries in the region (although it is for 12 OECD countries).

While monitoring and evaluation of training investment is a top priority in 34% of OECD countries (including Australia, Korea and New Zealand), this is not the case in any of the surveyed SEA countries.

Embedding learning in the culture and values of the public service goes beyond the existence of competency frameworks or training programmes, requiring employee competency development to be a core responsibility of public managers. Yet data suggests that workforce development is still among the lowest priorities for senior civil servants in SEA and OECD countries (with only 4 and 11 countries respectively noting civil service training as a key priority).

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Methodology and definitions

Data were collected through the OECD Strategic Human Resource Management Survey and refer to 2016 for OECD countries and 2018 for SEA countries. Respondents were predominately senior officials in central government HRM departments, and data refer to HRM practices in central government. The survey was completed in 2017/2018 by nine SEA countries (Myanmar did not respond to the survey) and in 2016 by 35 OECD countries.

The terms public and civil service/servants are used interchangeably throughout this chapter.

Further reading

OECD (2017), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

OECD (2011), Public Servants as Partners for Growth: Towards a Stronger, Leaner and More Equitable Workforce, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264166707-en.

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5.13. Civil service competencies and training priorities, 2018

Comptencies mentioned in competency frameworks

Training and competence development priorities (top 5)

Digital competencies

Leadership

Values and ethics

Strategic thinking

Political competencies

A whole-of-government training strategy

Monitoring and evaluation of training investment

Executive leadership training and coaching

Training for middle management

Co-ordination mechanisms for civil service training

Brunei Darussalam

Cambodia

Indonesia

Lao PDR

Malaysia

Philippines

Singapore

Thailand

Viet Nam

SEA Total

2

8

7

5

3

5

0

8

4

5

Australia

Japan

Korea

New Zealand

..

..

..

..

..

OECD Total

13

21

22

20

6

14

12

23

14

11

Key:

Yes = ⚫

No = ⚪

Sources: For SEA countries, OECD (2018) Strategic Human Resources Management Survey. For OECD countries, OECD (2016) Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933841197

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5.14. Civil service competency development, 2018

Preparation of a common competency framework

Existence of a civil service-wide training strategy

Co-ordinating, promoting and administering learning

Employee development is a key competency for SCS

Only the central HRM Unit

Interministerial working groups

Single institution within government

Shared responsibilities at central/federal level

Responsibilities delegated to the Ministry/Agency level

Brunei Darussalam

Cambodia

Indonesia

Lao PDR

Malaysia

..

..

Philippines

Singapore

Thailand

Viet Nam

SEA Total

7

4

7

3

4

2

4

Australia

Japan

Korea

New Zealand

OECD Total

23

15

16

11

12

12

11

Key:

Yes = ⚫

No = ⚪

Sources: For SEA countries, OECD (2018) Strategic Human Resources Management Survey. For OECD countries, OECD (2016) Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933841216

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https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264305915-en

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5.6. Competency management and development