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The Effect of Employee Training on Job Performance in Local Governments: A Case of Bukedea District, Uganda

*Apolot Florence1 and Lydia Emuron1

1Department of Business Administration and Management, Kampala International University, Uganda

*Corresponding Author: polonange3@kiu.ac.ug

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the influence of employee training on performance in Local Governments, with a focus on Bukedea district. Objectives included establishing the link between training and performance, assessing employed training methods, and gauging the relevance of employee programs. The research utilized a cross-sectional descriptive survey design with 172 randomly selected staff, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Data collection involved questionnaires, interviews, and documentary analysis, followed by editing, coding, and analysis using SPSS. Results were presented graphically, revealing a training gap, indicating the absence of pre-training needs assessment and a local government training policy. These deficiencies raised concerns about the effectiveness of training initiatives in enhancing overall performance. Recommendations were made, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive reevaluation of the training process in Bukedea district. This involves conducting thorough needs assessments, establishing a robust training policy, and implementing evaluation mechanisms to enhance the effectiveness of training initiatives, ultimately contributing to improved performance in the Local Government context.

Keywords: Employee, Training, Job, Performance and Local Governments

INTRODUCTION

In the contemporary business landscape, both private and public organizations strategically plan to gain a competitive advantage over their peers. To achieve this, they recognize the imperative of having a workforce with superior capabilities compared to their counterparts. This necessitates a substantial investment in the development of skills and competencies. Organizations are acutely aware that a deficiency in actual or potential skills could jeopardize their future prosperity and growth [1]. The roots of training can be traced back to 1919, coinciding with the establishment of the Peace Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations as autonomous bodies under the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO’s primary mandate was to foster social progress by harmonizing economic and social development [2]. Initially focused solely on industrial engineering in the 1950s and 1960s, the ILO subsequently broadened its activities to encompass various functions and organizational problem areas at different management levels. Over the past four decades, the ILO has played a crucial role in assisting developing countries in managing their development and helping small enterprises achieve economic and social objectives. Presently, the ILO collaborates with governments, employers, and employees to enhance training through quality improvement advisory services. It actively contributes to building and fortifying training networks that serve as focal points for performance promotion. According to [3], training has evolved into a global economic, social, and multidisciplinary policy issue, demanding integrated efforts from all stakeholders for future success.

The contemporary landscape, characterized by highly competitive and complex environments, underscores the urgency of training and quality improvement in organizations. Recent global and market-friendly policies have contributed to this shift. Success for organizations today hinges on the collective efforts of all employees working towards common goals and objectives. The challenge lies in motivating employees to excel in diverse roles while aligning with a shared vision. In this era of intense competition, employee performance takes center stage in organizational priorities.Top of Form Scholar in [4], underscores the significance of addressing the training and development of employees within every organization. The variance in both the quantity and quality of training across organizations is substantial. Various factors contribute to this discrepancy, including the degree of change in the external environment (such as technological advancements and new legislation), internal changes in processes, the availability of suitable skills within the workforce, senior management’s commitment to training as a crucial component of economic success, the perception of training as a monitoring factor in work, and the expertise of those responsible for conducting training. Many organizations often fulfill their training needs in an ad hoc and haphazard manner, lacking a systematic approach. In contrast, those adopting a systematic approach begin by identifying their training needs, followed by the rational design of training activities and a subsequent assessment of training outcomes [4].

The scholar in [2] recognizes that training has evolved into a global economic, social, and multidisciplinary policy issue, crucial for future success. The emergence of highly competitive and complex environments, driven by recent global and market-friendly policies, has heightened the urgency for quality improvement in organizational performance [5]. Across the African region, training has been shown to facilitate skill updates, increase professionalism, enhance employee commitment and satisfaction [6][4]. Studies by [7][8] highlight the benefits of internal and external training courses, linking them to increased job satisfaction and positive organizational sentiments among staff. The Public Service Review and Reorganization Commission according to [9] strongly advocated for training in the public service. However, while creating a responsibility center and commitment to the training function, it failed to establish a clear linkage between training programs and the attainment of organizational goals and objectives within the civil service. This study aims to explore the impact of training on performance in Bukedea district. In the contemporary context, training is a central element in Human Resource Management functions essential for organizational survival in the 21st century. A well-designed and executed training program is expected to significantly enhance functional, departmental, and individual performance, thereby producing desired results on the job. Unlike the traditional perception that training was not viewed as a value-creating activity, modern organizations recognize its role in successfully navigating competitive challenges. Innovative training practices are correlated with better financial performance, emphasizing the importance of training in meeting competitive challenges.

Training is not a luxury, it is a necessity in the global and economic marketplace where organizations strive to offer high-quality products and services. It prepares employees to adapt to new technologies, function in novel work systems, and communicate effectively in diverse cultural contexts. The goal of training is to facilitate employees’ learning of competencies, including knowledge, skills, and behaviors critical for successful job performance. This high-leverage training approach is aligned with linking training to performance improvement, ensuring that it contributes to enhancing employee performance and, consequently, organizational outcomes [10][11][12]. According to [10] emphasizes the role of training in fostering skills updates, increasing professionalism, and enhancing employee commitment and satisfaction within the organization, supporting the notion that job-related training enhances employees’ abilities to perform their tasks effectively [13].

In 1997, the Ugandan government formally implemented a decentralization policy aimed at transferring essential services to the local government level. This initiative also sought to enhance the capacity of local governments to effectively fulfill their devolved mandates, as outlined in the Local Government Act of 1997. Consequently, the present government strategy focuses on devolving power and responsibilities to local government entities through decentralization. To ensure the success of this decentralization effort, it may be necessary to provide training for local government officials so they can efficiently manage the delegated powers and responsibilities. The transfer of responsibilities outlined in Article 200(1) of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution and Section 56(1) of the District Service Commission (DSC) empowered local governments to recruit, confirm, promote, and exercise disciplinary control over civil servants within their districts. Additionally, local governments were granted the authority to establish staffing structures tailored to their specific needs, including creating relevant positions and abolishing irrelevant ones. This increased responsibility necessitated new competencies and skills from staff to handle their duties effectively, leading to a heightened demand for training.

The Urban Project allocated funding for the training of trainers in local government, focusing on short-term capacity building, annual training provisions, and incentives for training [14]. The Ministry of Local Government, through its Decentralization Secretariat, secured substantial donor funds to conduct training sessions for all District Local Governments, including Bukedea. Training components were integrated into various projects across ministries to enhance capacity building in local government, fulfilling legal obligations stipulated in Section 97 of the Local Government Act (1997). Bukedea District, operating under the Local Government Decentralization system, is tasked with responsibilities such as engineering and works, public parks development, land management, tax collection, and planning for primary schools and primary healthcare, as specified by the Local Government Act (1997). With the decentralization policy in place, local authorities like Bukedea District are statutorily obligated to provide services to their communities, including primary schools, public health, local roads, water supply, revenue collection, and social and community development during the period of 2006-2009 [15][16][17].

Providing the aforementioned services requires continuously advancing skills, given the increasing sophistication of services, equipment, and administrative tools. Therefore, training plays a crucial role in ensuring the effective delivery of services by local authorities. Despite efforts to train employees in Bukedea through courses sponsored by donors such as Action Aid Uganda, CARE International, and the Central Government, which cover topics like Finance Officers Diploma, Accounting Technicians Certificate, Administrative Law, Office Management, Local Government Development Planning, STD/HIV/AIDS, Monitoring, Effective Secretary, Records and Information Management, and Assessment Course of Children with Special Needs, beneficiaries still express dissatisfaction with the services provided, citing perceived shortcomings and inadequacies. Despite numerous Government and Donors Agencies Interventions to build capacity through training for District Local Governments in order to better and improve performance, there is continuous dissatisfaction regarding the services delivered to the people as evidenced by various complaints aired in the press. This seems to indicate that perhaps the training offered does not provide practical and relevant experience for the Local governments.

Summary of Findings

This research utilized a cross-sectional survey research design, encompassing all staff, including department heads from selected departments. Human Resource Management considers training as a critical function, aiming to enhance present and future competencies by elevating skills and knowledge. The rationale behind this is that organizations investing in human resource training tend to exhibit greater efficiency. The study identified that among 136 respondents, only 15.4% held Bachelor’s degrees, potentially explaining the suboptimal performance post-training. This stemmed from a limited number of degree-holders assuming managerial roles, resulting in less qualified staff handling operational tasks beyond their training capacity. Moreover, the study found an absence of a defined training procedure and policy in the Local Government. Induction and orientation were not prioritized, causing challenges for newly recruited officers adapting to the work environment. Evaluation parameters for staff performance were unclear, with only timekeeping being deemed important. The selection of officers for training lacked criteria, and the overall training lacked a professional approach, being arranged without assessing specific needs. These factors compromised the intended benefits of training and hindered improved staff performance in the Local Government. The study highlighted the risk of excessive and unnecessary training expenses, as crucial policy issues like study leave administration and funding were overlooked. Employees were not obligated to return to Bukedea district after training due to the absence of bonding agreements. The field study revealed no discernible relationship between training policies and performance in Bukedea District. Further investigation revealed the absence of training policies, leading to arbitrary decision-making by managers, favoring some individuals over others. This research also established a correlation between training location and performance in Bukedea District. Those lacking prior knowledge before training benefited from both on-the-job and off-the-job training, while those attending on-the-job training found it easier to apply their learning to their roles. Additionally, individuals without a knowledge deficit still gained new insights applicable to their jobs.

   DISCUSSION

  1. Training sessions, both on-the-job and off-the-job, were conducted and attended during the studied period. Regardless of the training setting, participants acquired valuable knowledge. Nevertheless, those engaged in on-the-job training found it more seamless to apply their learning to their work compared to those involved in off-the-job training.
  2. Trainers invest a significant amount of time managing training events, from scheduling courses and selecting materials to handling enrollment, coordinating conferences and workshops, and collecting and analyzing evaluation forms. Unfortunately, they allocate less time to critical interventions that impact performance, such as facilitating change management activities and reinforcing managerial support for applying newly acquired skills on the job. This underscores the importance of effective training materials for optimal training outcomes.
  3. Dismissing the significance of induction programs has contributed to a decline in staff performance. Achieving organizational objectives is best realized when employees comprehend the rules, regulations, procedures, and systems governing their performance. The belief that the Local Government lacks the resources for induction neglects the potential benefits of investing in human resources. Assuming that well-performing interviewees can start work without further guidance may prove costly in the long run, as induction serves as an investment and avoids costly trial-and-error approaches.
  4. The majority of respondents believed that training needs assessment was not conducted in the Local Government before training sessions. This oversight hampers the effectiveness of training programs in influencing staff performance. Aligning with the findings of the Crown Agents report on the Uganda Civil Service, the absence of training needs assessment makes it challenging to establish a meaningful connection between training and performance improvement.
  5. Inadequate supervision contributes to suboptimal staff performance. Middle-level personnel play a role in this deficiency, as the strategy of identifying training needs is underutilized. Current training in the Local Government is supply-driven, and without serious supervisory responsibilities, staff are unlikely to overcome performance-related issues. Establishing a coherent training policy and local guidance for planning, monitoring, evaluating, and managing training activities is essential. Ad-hoc decisions should be replaced by long-term planning, and the Central Government should expedite the implementation of a comprehensive training policy for the entire Public Service to foster the creation and development of key skills and capabilities.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the effectiveness of training programs lies in the immediate application of learned skills, emphasizing a shift from fixing weaknesses to building on strengths and managing weaknesses. Induction programs play a crucial role for new and promoted staff, serving as milestones in their career paths. However, the absence of a guided policy for training implementation leaves room for malpractices, underscoring the importance of a participatory and systematic approach. Furthermore, both training institutions and Local Governments should actively evaluate the impact of training on performance, with the latter taking a leading role in identifying and budgeting for staff development needs. A holistic and well-structured training framework is essential for optimizing organizational performance and ensuring sustained growth.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations have been made in respect of the findings, discussions and conclusions of the study.

  • The person accountable for employee performance should also handle training responsibilities, including performance reviews and addressing poor performance. Managers need enhanced coaching skills to champion training instead of being gatekeepers.
  • Ensure performance applications are applied during and after training, allowing employees to utilize their strengths. Managers and heads of departments should play a role in capacity building, transforming training into a results-driven initiative.
  • Stakeholders’ efforts should be coordinated to avoid resource wastage in Local Government training. Establish a training policy outlining goals, beneficiaries, program details, responsibility, and evaluation criteria for effective management.
  • Emphasize performance planning as the framework for employee expectations and agreements. Regular performance monitoring should provide feedback for necessary changes and further training.
  • Trainees and sending organizations should participate in evaluating training programs. Knowledgeable supervisors are crucial for effective appraisal and performance management. Urgent refresher training for middle line managers in supervisory and performance management skills is recommended.

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CITE AS: Apolot Florence and Lydia Emuron (2024). The Effect of Employee Training on Job Performance in Local Governments: A Case of Bukedea District, Uganda. IDOSR JOURNAL OF ARTS AND MANAGEMENT, 9(1)1-17. https://doi.org/10.59298/IDOSRJAM/2024/9.1.19598

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