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Network Concept Document - Human Resources Network Initiative

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					                              Human Resources Network Initiative

                                       Concept Document

                                             May 2010




Various human capital development initiatives in the environment sector recognise the function of
human resources (including human resource development) as key to enabling professional practice
and the development thereof for effective implementation of environmental management stemming
from our progressive legislative framework. A workshop convened in December 2009 around the
issue of human resources and its role in human capital development recognised that as the
environment sector, all institutions: (1) are confronted with the same or similar issues; and (2) our
collective experience in human resources is more valuable than individual. From these discussions
a recommendation was made to regularly convene a network of human resource practitioners to
deliberate the multiple challenges in human resources to collectively explore, develop and support
implementation of strategic sector wide and institutionally based actions to address these and better
enable the development of professional practice for the environment.

A further workshop to launch and plan this network initiative, convened in May 2010 recommended
the development of a concept document to clarify the rational and objectives of the network,
participation and methodology envisaged for the network and to map out some strategic priority
areas to be explored through the next few meetings of the network. This concept document will
similarly be used to leverage financial support for the network’s programme of work.
1.   Context

Over the past 3 years various initiatives have been undertaken to strengthen capacity for improved
environment, conservation and natural resource management practices. These include, amongst
others:

    The Cape Action for People and the Environment bioregional programme, hosted by South
     African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Capacity Development Programme to support
     capacity development for effective conservation management in the Cape Floristic Region;


    The Department of Environmental Affairs’ development of an Environmental Sectors Skills Plan
     that will lead to a human capital development strategy;


    A led initiative, funded by the Lewis Foundation, to develop a human capital development
     strategy for the biodiversity sector;


    A WWF led initiative to explore human capital development for sustainable natural resource
     management in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors.

Extensive research through these processes reflects a range of challenges to developing human
capacity stemming from the primary school context and following through the high school and
higher education context into the workplace. Many issues are of a systemic nature and whereas
these manifest in the capacity of individuals, the root causes thereof can also be found in the
learning systems with which they engage and the human resource systems, structures and
processes within which they are employed at an institutional level.

Challenges to human capital development can be found at various levels, including:

a)   Challenges in organisational design and development


      Underfunded mandates (insufficient funds and operational budgets);
      Appropriate ratios of managers to technicians / workers, with some institutions being slim at
          the top and lean at the bottom and others being top and bottom heavy with a leaner staffing
          at middle management level;
      A lack of integration across departments, with many reporting a ‘silo’ orientation to working;
      A lack of performance management at an organisational level;
      High vacancy levels;
      An inability to retain good staff;



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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
      Conditions of employment (salaries, parity, contracts versus full time employment, career
        development);
      Transformation (shaped by organisational culture, different models of transformation).


b) Challenges in the function of human resources


      Poor links and work integration between human resources and operations;
      A predominant focus on personnel administration and / or policy development;
      Less engagement with strategic human resourcing within the organizational vision;
      Human resource systems, structures and processes less effective in supporting institutional
        mandates;
      An inability to adapt to change timeously;
      A lack of review in human resource systems, structures and processes, particularly in
        contexts of change;
      Job descriptions do not always adequately reflect job requirements;
      Competence profiling and tools for competence profiling are largely limited and absent in
        some cases;
      In many institutions there is a lack of useful data for skills planning;
      Many institutions experience a high turnover in human resources management and staff.


c)   Challenges in human resource development


      The human resource development function is often under-resourced;
      Performance management and career paths are not often used in the context of human
        resource development for which it has much potential;
      Workplace skills planning is often outsourced and is mostly commissioned from compliance
        perspective, is seldom linked to clear competence profiles and human resource development
        forecasting is rarely undertaken due to limited models or practice and insufficient data.


d) Challenges in training


      Expenditure on training is often limited with most institutions reflecting the legislated skills
        level of 1% allocation of salary budgets and no more;
      There has been over time a significant decline in internal training provision;
      A declining number of professional and managerial staff being trained with much training
        been focused on lower ranking officials in organisations;


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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
      Many approaches to selecting training could be described as ‘menu-based’ where training is
        shaped by what service providers are offering rather than originating from within the
        organizational and functional framework;
      Training and development is often approached from a point of deficiency, with less of an
        emphasis on the developmental approach, ie a reactive rather than proactive approach;
      Training is often limited in its translation from learning into the work context;
      There is often a poor match between skills needs identified and training provided;
      The bulk of budgets are often spent on general office training (for example, computer
        training, financial management, report writing, time management, amongst others) with less
        being related to the organizational / unit mandate and job functional areas;
      Most courses on offer from service providers focus on lower levels of the NQF, for example
        from levels 1 – 4 (equivalent to matric level);
      There is a lack of availability of relevant, accredited and quality learning programmes;
      The nature and size of training providers and relevance of courses offered may not be
        adequate to meet training needs;
      Most institutions have ineffective mechanisms for quality assurance of training.

In this context of challenge in training, human resource development, human resources and
organisational design, all seen to be related aspects and functions within organisations, the Human
Resource Network Initiative is being proposed.

2.   Rationale

There is agreement amongst human resource professionals that all institutions are confronted by
the same and / or similar challenges in organisational design, human resources, human resource
development and training, as outlined above.

There is also agreement amongst these professionals that institutions often turn to outside and
independent consultants to ‘write up’ a resolve for their internal challenges. These seldom come to
be owned by and implemented, as they are often developed in isolation from people in the
institution, by an individual who could potentially not adequately relate to the challenges as an
outsider and with implications that add significantly to the workload of all in the institutions. Many
human resource professionals see this as a less effective use of organisational budgets.

Professionals also agree that across organisations there is significant expertise, competence and
experience in organisational design, human resource management and development and training,
as a collective.      Some organisations are stronger in some areas and others have strength in
different areas.


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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
A suggested approach amongst a group of professionals, to addressing these multiple challenges,
is to harness this collective of expertise, competence and experience in organisational design,
human resource management and development and training to explore strategic responses at both
a sector and institutional level.            This key strategic objective is being fostered through the
establishment of and interactions amongst professionals in the Human Resource Network Initiative
for the environment, biodiversity and natural resource management sectors.

Participants in a Launch and Planning Workshop of the 13 May 2010 agreed on the value of this
network to:

    share examples of good practice in responding to human resource management and
     development challenges;

    learn from the experience of other professionals and institutions confronted with the same
     challenges;

    avoid reinventing the wheel of responses already tried and tested;

    provide a space for developing concrete actions for implementation towards strengthening
     human resource management and development in institutions;

    form a group that can lobby on behalf of the sector to better address its needs at a broader
     contextual level, for example, stronger representation of the environment in the 3rd generation
     National Skills Development Strategy and in the restructuring of the Sector Education and
     Training Authority (SETA) landscape, amongst others;

    develop learning products that meet the needs and respond to the challenges of the sector and
     individual organisations, for example guidelines for strategic workplace skills planning,
     databases of environmental learning programmes, blogs for the assessment of learning
     programmes amongst others.

The Human Resource Network Initiative will therefore meet regularly, at interim periods to deliberate
challenges and formulate strategic responses for implementation at both a sector as well as an
institutional level.

3.   Objectives

The objectives of the Human Resources Network Initiative are to:

a)   Convene periodic interactions amongst human resource management, human resource
     development and operational staff in the environment, conservation and natural resource
     management sectors;

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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
b)   Provide a lobby for the sector to address strategic human resource management and
     development issues in broader contexts;


c)   Support the development of strategic organisational design and development, human resource
     management and development and training responses for implementation at both a sector and
     institutional level;


d)   Support the development of human resource management and development capacity across
     the environment, conservation and natural resource management sectors.


4.   Participation

3 key thoughts have shaped suggested participation in the Human Resource Network Initiative:

Firstly, approaches to training and other human resource development (HRD) initiatives are
inevitably shaped by human resource management (HRM) systems, structures and processes.
Human resource management systems, structures and processes are similarly integrally connected
to the organisational design and development (ODD), reflected in the diagram below:

                                                      ODD


                                                     HRM

                                                     HRD


                                                   Training




Secondly, many conversations around human resource management and development suggest that
the function, though often represented at an executive level in the organisation, is not dealt with
from a strategic, but rather operational point of view.


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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
Thirdly, one of the key challenges noted above is the lack of interaction between line management
and human resource management and development. Typical statements reflecting this is ‘… line
management needs to come on board … ‘ from human resource practitioners and ‘… human
resources needs to come on board …’ from line management. This leaves one wondering why they
are in separate boats.

To address these 3 challenges and encourage a strategic approach to human resource
development linked to human resource management and organisational design and development,
recommended participation from institutions include:

    Human Resource Manager / Executive Director
    Human Resource Development Manager;
    1 or more representative of line / operations management.

Please note that whereas we might initially be able to accommodate more than 3 people per
institution initially, this might not be possible as organisational participation increases into the future.

5.   Methodology

The Human Resource Network Initiative is envisioned as a community of practice through which
participants learn and work collaboratively to improve human resource development at an
institutional as well as a sector level. This involves sharing and learning together through:

    Structured interactions and deliberations during workshop sessions - two-day workshops will be
     convened tri-annually (every 4 months) around a particular focus or priority area defined by the
     group of participants, the frequency open to review as needs arise;


    Inputs from specific expert consultants brought into the process around specific focus or priority
     areas – these inputs could be drawn on from outside of the sector or from within participating
     organisations where the expertise exists;


    Development of concrete actions from each workshop session – rather than only theoretical
     deliberations, we envisage the development of concrete plans for implementation at either a
     sector and / or institutional level;


    Implementation of actions – we envision the participation of all in the implementation of action
     plans whether at a sector or institutional level, with each subsequent workshop interaction
     opening with report back and reflection on action plans previously developed.




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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
In essence the envisioned methodology is one of work together – during workshop sessions – and
work away – at a sector and / or institutional level, towards strengthening capacity to respond the
multiple human resource development challenges.

6.    Roles and Functions

The Launch and Planning workshop as a start to this process, was convened and planned by
individuals in / for the Department of Environment Affairs, SANBI, the Lewis Foundation and WWF-
SA.

As a community of practice, effective functioning of the network will require participation from all
members in convening interactions and implementing action plans. Through a system of rotation, all
participating organisations will be called on to make inputs in the following ways:

     Co-convene workshops – for example, WWF-SA has agreed to lead the convening of the next
      workshop and is likely to call on SANParks as hosts to support this process; this might be
      followed by SANParks leading convening the following interaction together with another
      volunteer organisation;


     Develop an appropriate programme in response to the focus or priority area identified for the
      workshop;


     Secure specialist inputs and presenters as required in the workshop programme


     Make specific inputs into workshop programmes – the network is seen as one of resources and
      expertise which will be drawn on from time to time in leading discussions around key focus /
      priority areas;


     Lead sector wide actions – as defined by the group;


     Undertake specific tasks in preparation for following workshop interaction – this might include
      for example, reviews, audits of current systems, structures and processes and identifying
      limitations;


     Lobby and secure institutional support for, and participation – this       might be within own
      institution across departments as deemed necessary as well as across other institutions in the
      sector;




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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
    Arrange logistics for workshop interactions – arrange venues, set up, catering, amongst others.

Secretariat support will be provided for through DEA’s Chief Directorate: Sector Education and
Training [THOMAS MATHIBA TO PLEASE CONFIRM … POSED AS A REQUEST]

7.   Focus and priority areas

Through interactions at the Launch and Planning Workshop of May 2010, the following focus and
priority areas have been identified – not listed in any order of priority - for following workshop
interactions:

    Exploring the standardisation of job titles and descriptions within and across organisations
     within various organising frameworks, such as DPSA’s Code of Remuneration (CORE), DoL’s
     Organising Framework for Occupations and Treasury guidelines;

    Exploring tools and processes to support organisations in translating mandates into job profiles
     with appropriate competence profiles linked to key performance areas;

    Strengthening developmental approaches to performance management and link job and
     competence profiling more clearly in these processes;

    Strengthen training to more strongly support organisational mandates through use of clear job
     and competence profiling;

    Exploring processes of effectively unlocking SETA funding for human resource development;

    Exploring the landscape of training provision in the environmental sector (learning programmes,
     providers, quality issues, accreditation, amongst other considerations);

    Strengthening processes of Workplace Skills Planning (WSP), including methodologies applied;

    Engage National Skills Authority and Ministry of Higher Education & Training on representation
     of environment sector in the new Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) landscape
     and the National Skills Development Strategy III;

    Facilitate the accreditation of courses higher than NQF levels 1-4;

    Developing mechanisms for working sectorally, for example, collaboration in training and / or
     learning academies, National Skills Development Task Team as lobby within sector;

    Developing certain products and processes to support human resource development, such as:




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Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
         A website to make training provision more demand-driven and provide a peer-mechanism to
          share reports on quality;

         A database of courses and training providers

         A file with a set of human resource management and development tools, such as guidelines
          to competency profiling; processes and case examples of career mapping; assessment tools
          to support the recognition of prior learning in the workplace; effective communication
          strategies; human resource matrices that tie human resource management and development
          budgets to outcomes;


         Use the developing file as the basis for short courses in the network workshops to
          strengthen human resource management and development capacity.

 As noted before, these priorities and products have not been listed in any order of priority. They will
 be reviewed at each workshop intervention and a decision made on which priority or product would
 be the focus of the next workshop. This, so that the network can respond to current changes in a
 rapidly changing work and learning environment. For example, in light of the current SETA
 restructuring process, the release of the National Skills Development Strategy III and the need for a
 sector response to these developments a decision was made to focus the next workshop on
 leveraging SETA funding to complement institutional training budgets.

 8.   Budget

 The following budget has been developed relative to convening workshop interactions for the
 remainder of 2010 and for 2011. It is therefore based on 5 workshop interactions, 1 in 2010 and 3
 in 2011 and a contingency for an additional workshop interaction if required in the changing
 landscape of skills development.

  No                                Cost item                                  Projected Amount
   1       Consulting fees (note 1)                                                         R75,000.00
   2       Materials Development (note 2)                                                   R50,000.00
   3       Workshop Costs (note 3)                                                           R5,000.00
   4       Catering (note 4)                                                                R87,500.00
 TOTAL                                                                                     R217,500.00


 Notes to budget

1.    Consulting fees are cost at R7,500.00 / day for 10 days, based on the anticipated need of
      contracting in consulting services to guide some discussions and the development of action



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 Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010
      plans, for example, communication strategies that work, guidelines for competence profiling,
      amongst others.
2.    Materials development includes the development, DTP, layout and printing of resources
      identified to support human resource management and development.
3.    This includes pens, flipchart paper, kokis, printing workshop materials, etc.
4.    Catering is cost at R350,00 per person per workshop, assuming an increase to 50 participants
      over time.




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 Concept Document: Human Resource Network Initiative – July 2010

				
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