Since the formulation of Vision 2016 in 1997, it has been increasingly clear that the absence of a Human Resource Development Strategy is a key impediment to achieving Botswana’s long term ambitions. Therefore, with the recent approval of the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) by the National Employment, Manpower and Incomes Council, the Tertiary Education Council (TEC) has been requested to expedite its immediate implementation.
During the formulation stage of National Development Plan 9, the development of a NHRDS was identified by Government (GoB) as key project. Support to undertake a series of programming activities to move the project forward to the point of implementation was provided by the European Union.
According to Dr Patrick Molutsi, the TEC Executive Secretary, the common understanding that has emerged is that, for Botswana to be acknowledged as a winning nation will depend on its ability to raise the levels of its people to meet the needs of the economy, to fulfil their own individual potentials.
“This also has to assist them to meaningfully engage with and contribute to the broader expectations and demands of society,” he said.
The implementation of this strategy is expected to provide a strategic link across each of the Vision 2016 pillars, and a vital underpinning to the range of Government, societal, sector and institutional reforms that are necessary for Botswana to achieve this status of a ‘winning nation.’
NHRDS is said to be vital for a number of additional reasons. Molutsi said it is now globally recognised as the means to a competitive, sustained and vibrant economy which, in turn, is linked to better jobs for a majority of the population. He said the result is the overall advancement of the nation and better lives for the individual members of society. It is about building a society that not only prioritises human resource development but more fundamentally places people at the centre of national strategies, he explained.
Citing an example, Molutsi pointed out that the development and implementation of a NHRDS has been the key ingredient of success of those countries which are not well endowed in natural resources, for instance, Finland, Ireland, Taiwan, South Korea Singapore and Mauritius. He said it has also provided the winning formula for those resource abundant countries that have been able to free themselves from the overspecialisation in natural resources.
“Accordingly, the development of a NHRDS which better links together economic growth, societal advancement and the skills and knowledge of the population has to be a new focus of Government as an essential requirement to move Botswana’s development trajectory forward.”
This represents the essential importance of human resource development and calls for an explicit, strategically focussed and sustained approach which seeks to link social, cultural, political and economic strategies in a more holistic and integrated manner around human capabilities and opportunities.
Critical to the success of the NHRDS, Molutsi said it will be the introduction of sectoral committees representing key and strategic sectors of the economy. The sectoral committees is expected to be the key to ensuring that there is a direct linkage between the skills developed and the needs of the fast changing economy.
“This is an approach that has been adopted with some success in Mauritius with its HRDC sectoral committees, Singapore through the Economic Development Board and also in Hong Kong with its Vocational Training Sector Boards,” he said. Molutsi noted that four Sectoral Committees will be initiated during 2008/9 namely Mining and Resources, Health, Financial Services and Tourism.
According to Molutsi, the outcome of this sector’s specific approach will be that citizens will be in a position to exploit the employment of these key growth areas as well as ensuring the knowledge and learning experience of the development projects that are being implemented in each sector.
“It will also ensure that the national strategy to diversify the economy through these key sectors is not compromised as a consequence of a serious mismatch between the current citizen endowment in terms of skills and competencies and the demand for skilled employees,” he concluded.