The Chinese Mission: Recommendations for Gambia’s Human Resource Development

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By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

Two staff from Banjul City Council (BCC) have written a report detailing their trip to China focusing on “Human Resources Development for The Gambia”. BCC Public Relations Officer, Modou Lamin B Bah and Acting License Manager, Pa Modou Ndow have co-authored a report summarizing lessons learned and recommendations developed after their three-week trip to Nanchang China. The training was organised by Jiangxi College of Foreign studies and sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

Rationale and Methodology

According to the report the rationale for the trip is for knowledge sharing and to exploit the “benefits of emerging concepts in Human Resources Development”. The use of knowledge is recognized as the first step towards understanding how to better organize and enhance the Gambia’s Human Resources with lessons learned and recommendations aimed at developing public servants through capacity building.

The three-week training was conducted through lectures, exchanges and discussions, field trips, case studies and video films. The main objective of the Seminar are summarized in five bullet points. Firstly, to “examine the role of Human Resources Management (HRM) in achieving development”. Secondly to “examine the current performance measurement instruments as enablers or deterrents of sustainable development”. Thirdly facilitating discussion on “innovative approaches in the HRM strategies for sustainable development”. The fourth objective is to “align the HRM policies with the country and continent wide development blueprints” and finally to “prioritize human capital as core assets for sustainable development”.

Lessons Learned

According to the author “the seminar served as a platform for Human Resource Practitioners from The Gambia and experts, scholars and researchers from renowned Institutions in China to share ideas, experiences, lessons and best practices in the Human Resource Management field. ”Below is a section from the report highlighting the lessons learned which have been grouped under two categories namely; Human Resources and Recruitment and Chinese Culture and Work Ethic.

Human Resources and Recruitment

  • The authors learned that there is a growing number of head-hunting companies that recruit high level talents for enterprises and were told that the Chinese recruitment process is very transparent and fair to all citizens. Their recruitment processes includes examinations, further background checks and vetting of potential employees,
  • The emergence of HR companies such as Golden Finger are implementing a new strategy which includes recruitment and training of workers for enterprises. In this way, companies pay workers’ salaries and a commission to the recruiting organisation, and
  • The authors were informed that “it is not possible to be employed in China civil service through political influence. All appointments have to follow due process”.

Chinese Culture and Work Ethic

The Chinese Mission provided an opportunity for Gambian delegates to learn about Chinese culture and work ethics this included;

  • “Learning about the Chinese language, culture and their philosophy of patience and respect for authority. This allowed for greater understanding of Chinese behavior throughout the training course,
  • “Observing the behavior and attitude of Chinese people, who were highly organised, determined and friendly.” Gambian people are also very friendly, however it’s normal for Gambian workers to report work late and leave early. This is a cultural attitude which the Gambia can improve on, and
  • Learning about China’s reform which included opening up and the eventual development of China into the second economic giant within a span of 40 years. China is still not relenting, and this trip provided the opportunity for delegates to deepen their “understanding of the Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Authors, BCC’s Pa Modou Ndow (L) and Modou Lamin B. Bah (R)

Recommendations

Below are some of the recommendations from the report for Government Ministries and public servants to implement. Below are some of the recommendations which have been grouped under three categories; recommendations for future training opportunities, recommendations for the Gambia Government, recommendations for the Gambia-China Cooperation and one recommendation for China.

With regards to how the training was conducted the authors of the report have recommended that;

  • “The duration of the training be extended to at least 1-2 months for better understanding of the different topics and that beneficiaries of the program should prepare individual reports and implement lessons learned during the course upon return;
  • “participants of the training be given the opportunity to be involved in decision making regarding travel itinerary options when coming to China and to be given one day break to recuperate after the travel to China;

Some recommendations have been developed specifically for The Government, such as;

  • “to enhance demographic dividend given that our country is youthfully populated and The Government of the Gambia should improve in the area of human resource development and invest in young people for the greater future of the country and for the government of the Gambia to conduct periodic review of its Education curriculum to ensure parity with national development objectives, and
  • “building more vocational and skill training to ensure availability of skilled labor with a view to curb the heavy dependence on foreigners for skilled labor;

With regards to Gambia-China Cooperation and opportunities for further training the authors recommend that;

  • “urgent steps be taken to build the capacity of human resource professionals across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies through the Gambia-China bilateral channel,
  • “The Government of the People’s Republic of China is kindly requested to support the Gambia benefit from more scholarships that China is providing to African Countries,
  • “The Gambia-China Cooperation should put more emphasis on technical and vocational education and for more long term training opportunities to be granted to Gambian students and civil servants at undergraduate and graduate levels on HR and Management related fields,
  • “The Gambia-China cooperation should be extended to included business to business engagement, and
  • “for consideration of job placement opportunities be opened to civil servants of both countries to boost hands on deck experience.

One recommendation which is directed at China specifically is for “the Government of the People’s Republic of China to kindly send experts to the Gambia for the benefit of a wider audience especially at the level of senior management cadre who may not have the time to come over to China”.

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