UNLIKE careers in culinary arts, law, or medicine, the path of someone who wants to be a public servant is less defined. There isn’t an exact bachelor’s degree offered at schools to learn all the skills necessary to work in the bureaucracy. Many of these competencies are learned on the job and in seminars provided by the government. With regular changes of elected officials and cabinet members, it is important to strengthen the workforce and systems that remain with an institution in the long run. Technology and the emergence of new ways of doing things have drastically changed the governance landscape, and as it continues to evolve, so must the competencies of our public servants.
Since 2010, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) has organized the twice yearly Governance Boot Camp, bringing together public servants from both local government units and national government agencies to strengthen their competencies and address strategic weak points. From a small class of less than 20 delegates when it first started, the boot camp has evolved into a weeklong training conference with over 100 delegates divided into basic and master classes. Seven years after it was first launched, the boot camp has trained over 1,000 public servants from more than 50 public sector institutions across the country.
The event brings together lecturers from a pool of locally and internationally recognized governance experts, and practice leaders of ISA’s governance reform program – the Performance Governance System (PGS). This is a holistic and collaborative framework for designing and executing roadmaps to long-term reform. It culls global best practices in managing strategy to meet the rising needs of Philippine public sector institutions, and builds governance reform capacities across a four-stage pathway, addressing a wide array of challenges while also yielding niched impact.
At its core, the boot camp supports the PGS by building the capacities of governance practitioners to strengthen the implementation of the PGS in public sector institutions. Boot camp delegates learn the basics of long-term strategy design and implementation, as well as methods for monitoring and sustaining transformation. The master class of the boot camp features more specialized topics for advanced governance practitioners that will enable them to bring their strategy implementation to new heights.
The Governance Boot Camp has produced graduates like former National Police Commissioner Constancia de Guzman, who says, “The boot camp felt truly transformative as I gathered new competencies, skills, and knowledge. It was the most appropriate approach to ensuring my initiatives were responsive to challenging issues in my organization.”
Modules ranging from breaking down silos to risk assessment are part and parcel of the boot camp. Topics are kept current and relevant to the needs of delegates, tailor-fitting the curriculum to address gaps in competencies based on training needs analyses conducted before and after each boot camp.
Over the years, the boot camp has also become a venue where delegates share the best practices of their institutions, and garner new insights from fellow delegates working in the same field. This aspect of the boot camp facilitates the spread of well-tested strategies from one institution to another, allowing them to be inspired by the ideas of others and to learn from the mistakes made while implementing them.
The ISA boot camp creates a fun environment for delegates by employing various learning techniques and a balance of lectures, workshops, and peer exchanges. The spirit of camaraderie that develops during the boot camp is unlike any other. Knowing that they are learning together with like-minded individuals passionate to improve governance in the Philippines inspires delegates to continue their advocacy of governance reform and to deliver better services to their constituents. Attending the boot camp has helped public servants become more confident, responsive, and involved in transforming their organizations.
Boot Camp lecturer and ISA associate Ryan Evangelista says: “I’ve been privileged to be part of the boot camp for a couple of years now and it’s a great honor to, not just deliver the module, but to hear and get inspired by the people who are in the boot camp. I am always happy to see more new faces but at the same time experience the same methodology and approach to getting people inspired.”
ISA’s upcoming boot camp, organized in cooperation with the municipal government of Mariveles and the provincial government of Bataan, will be held from February 15 to 22, 2017. For more information on the boot camp visit http://isacenter.org/programs/pgs-boot-camp/.