The HRDC revolution’s Leading Lady
Dr Ellah Manyana Matshediso is the Director of Human Resource Development Planning (Supply) at the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC).
The structure was created to lead and oversee the country’s shift from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy in a bid to address the misalignment between the supply of graduates and the current requirements of the labour market.
Dr Matshediso’s role in the revolution is to direct Botswana’s Tertiary Education Institutions’ response to implementing the shift.
The Voice’s Portia Ngwako-Mlilo caught up with the esteemed Dr, who has a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts (USA) and a Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy from the University of South Africa, to find out how the transformation is going.
Q. Shifting from a resource to a knowledge-based economy – are we on the right track?
A. Yes. The government of Botswana has developed the strategy and the act. This is our fourth year of the implementation of our strategy and so far the institutions are well informed in terms of the act and the strategy.
We have developed institutional frameworks that are guiding the institutions to develop their plans. Some institutions already had their plans but we want them to follow the framework that has been defined by the nation.
We are on the right track, we have efforts that are guiding the nation and supporting key players in terms of research and information. The funding that goes into scholarships is guided by the skills priorities defined by the industry.
Q. Talking of industry demand, how does HDRC decide which programmes to prioritise?
A. This is guided by a thorough assessment of what the industry needs. HRDC contact professionals within the industry and engage them to identify their skill demands.
That is how the priority skills and occupations came about, through human resource planning demand and supply.
We give institutions that feedback and government makes a decision on which courses are prioritised for sponsorship. It is important that we define our priorities so we can train accordingly.
Q. What targets have been set to ensure the plan is being achieved?
A. We have a strategy that has objectives and looks at how we are going to be operating. We also have the monitoring framework, which we are about to finalise.
This is a much wider paradigm shift HRDC has been tasked with and as the coordinating and advisory body we have targets. We have 48 institutions and in our plans we indicated that by the year 2022 all institutions should have developed their plans.
2018-19 we should be having a Human Resource Development Plan and setting up other funds that are meant for implementing the strategy.
Q. What is the importance of institutional planning?
A. Institutional Planning is a strategy employed to ensure that the Tertiary Education sub-sector is systematically positioned to respond to the human resource development needs of Botswana’s economy.
This involves ensuring that the output of Tertiary Education institutions matches the priorities of the economy’s needs, not just learner’s preferences.
We monitor, audit and capacitate institutions to assist them to improve on their implementation and re-focus their programmes to meet the industry demand.
Remember, the supply is meant to meet the demand of the industry and as such we are responsible for developing strategies for students’ attachment and academically prescribed internships and promote methods of skills development.
It ensures that Tertiary Education Institutions assess their relevance from time to time.
Q. How do you reach out to your stakeholders?
A. We use strategic platforms that already exist. We have contacts with the industry in forms of capacity building, developing policies, frameworks, strategies that guide them.
HRDC has information sharing forums like Botswana Human Resource Skills Fair and Career Clinics (BHRDS). The event brings together sectors, institutions, students and the general public under one roof.
We attend full council in different districts, parliamentary briefings and visit schools for capacity building. HRDC has scheduled radio programmes and we also disseminate information through newspapers.
Q. What challenges does HRDC face in implementing this change?
A. Introducing something new has never been easy and we got some element of resistance. The government created the Act and then the Strategy to facilitate this.
Uptakes in some areas continue to be low because people are not used to this new development. One of the challenges we have is low uptake of Human Resource Development Fund.
Government supports the industry to use the levy by training their employees so that they can deliver to their mandate. These may include but is not limited to: apprenticeship, learnership, traineeship and internship.
Companies need to engage in workplace learning to align skills and competencies to the Skills Training Plan as informed by the National and Sector Human Resource Development Plans.
Q. Why are companies reluctant to train their workers through this programme?
A. Employers say after training employees they either demand a salary increase or quit and find greener pastures – that is why the uptake is slow.
We advocate workplace learning but they fail to claim back the levy they paid. It is very important because it promotes and encourages Research and Innovation initiatives geared towards achieving the National Human Resource Development Strategy.
Q. What are some of HRDC’s major achievements?
A. We have the annual tertiary education statistics report – information on how institutions are performing in terms of enrolling according to the priorities. We have seen a trend where they have moved from just ordinary courses to prioritised ones.
HRDC has established and successfully implemented BHRDS. We have developed institutional planning frameworks. These are our greatest achievements because the success of the shift is based on successful uptake of institutions in terms of implementing and training according to the priority skills.
The establishment of the Human Resource Development Fund is another success and we are in the process of finalising the labour market observatory system. We still have a long way to go and a lot still needs to be done but so far so good!
Q. When is the National Human Resource Development Plan going to be approved?
A. We expect that by end of April we will be having the delivery of the document and after which is going to be the monitoring framework and implementation.
Around July we should be able to share the plan with the public. The plan is the road map informing the nation exactly how we intend to transform the economy from resource to knowledge based.
Q. Why did HRDC find it necessary to conduct students’ leadership training?
A. It is very important and remains one of our priorities because students are our clients. Without learners there will be no institutions.
We train student leadership to make them aware of our strategies and their role. Any success of an institution comes from a mutual understanding of key structures such as Students Representative Council.
That is why institutions must have Students Affairs Services. A successful learner is the one that exists in an environment that provides academic support, students affairs services support like sports, health and wellness, career guidance services and accommodation just to mention a few.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. Policy advisory, working with the key stakeholders, capacitating, coaching and being aligned to what our strategy demands.
As a public health specialist all my work was centered on coordination. What I am doing now is in line with that because the health of the population depends on the education they get. I have done coordination, advising, monitoring and evaluation so I am well fitted for this role!
Q. Who inspires you?
A. (Laughing) There are many. I have different spheres to look at. I have Bishop Dr David Moyedepo of Winners Chapel International Church, incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Dr Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Professor Mosa Dube, Dr Saleshando and many more. Internationally it is Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
A. I am a farmer so every weekend I go to the farm. My job is very demanding so this weekend I am visiting my mother and father. To grow as a professional I always read and write articles so I will also be doing that.