On May 15, 2019, at Hanoi Campus, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) held a Seminar on “Development of the training curriculum for Vice Ministers and equivalents”. Assoc. Luong Thanh Cuong – NAPA Vice President chaired the seminar. Presented at the seminar were Dr. Jay Wysocki, Academic Advisor, Vietnam Initiative, Indiana University (USA); Dr. Moktar Lamari, Director of Center for Policy Analysis and Evaluation, National School of Public Administration, Québec (Canada); and NAPA scholars, faculties, staff.
In the opening remark, Assoc.Prof.Dr. Luong Thanh Cuong said that NAPA is currently assigned to develop the training curriculum on leadership and management for vice ministers and equivalents, which is an important but also very difficult task for NAPA. Because the vice ministers and civil servants planned to be appointed to the position of vice ministers are senior officials who have profound expertise and experience in public management, taken many training courses in professional skills and knowledge. However, they are from different areas of work and it is challenging to design a general two-week training program to strengthen their capacity and equip them with necessary knowledge and skills that do not overlap with the training programs they have undergone.
Assoc. Luong Thanh Cuong expected seminar experts and participants to actively discuss and give suggestions on how the training program should be developed and what training content should be covered to meet the learning needs of these senior officials. Training is expected to improve competency of these senior officials in advising and assisting ministers in administration of the assigned areas.
At the seminar, experts from the United States and Canada introduced experience in designing leadership and management training programs, including training programs for Undersecretaries of the United States and Canada.
Dr. Moktar Lamari, who has rich experience working in government agencies as well as doing research at research and training institutions in Canada, said: Undersecretaries are connecting politicians and the bureaucracy and have taken various positions before promotion, possessing abundant experience. Therefore, knowledge and skills required for training these officials should be sound and diverse. They must have good knowledge of the nature and goals of the public sector; operation principles and mandates that public sector must accomplish. At the same time, they must have the ability to effectively use the organization’s resources; to connect and coordinate subordinate departments to complete the assigned tasks. And, in particular, they must know how to optimize the budget allocation. There are usually 6 – 7 topics on budget management included in the executive training program in Canada.
In addition, they should be provided knowledge of crisis management, government innovation, budget management, change management, control of public service performance, tools for leadership and management; policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation; interaction between government organizations and non-governmental organization; sustainable development management; strategic thinking and creating alliance to implement strategies; support, motivation for subordinates; and communication skills, respect of others.
Dr. Moktar Lamari shared Canada’s experience in how to design the executive training program. The National School of Public Administration (ENAP) has had a close relationship with the Government of Canada and is a regular provider for training programs for the Government. When the Government of Canada needs a training program, it will contact ENAP to discuss how to design the program. Then ENAP will organize workshops and seminars to clarify requirements, discuss and exchange ideas and inputs for designing training programs. About 3 – 4 training courses are piloted afterwards to learn experience to complete the program before scaling up the training. He also added that Québec spends 1% of the budget for training civil servants and regulates a requirement on training courses at ENAP before promotion in the civil service.
To design the training program, according to TS. Moktar Lamari, it is necessary to refer the three main sources: (1) good international practices which will be included in the training program; (2) political orientations of the Government (skills requirements for public leaders and skills to be trained in the programs); (3) problems the Government is facing (identified based on the surveys of policy implementers), which also provides the basis for prioritization of training contents in the training program.
Dr. Jay Wysocki, Academic Advisor, Vietnam Initiative, Indiana University (USA), who has had extensive experience in designing capacity building programs for Vietnamese public officials as a UNDP policy advisor, emphasized that it is the Vietnamese who understand best the current context in Vietnam and therefore, could give the most realistic ideas about the training programs and make them suitable for each training target group. while international experts only share experience of other countries in executive training programs. He proposed to set up a research team to conduct surveys on the training contents of the executive training programs and interview vice ministers on the current problems they are facing, which makes the new executive training program practical.
At the seminar, participants also discussed evaluation of trainees. Many training institutions for public officials in other countries use evaluation forms which are designed as a set of questions on the learning process, the quality of trainers, and the training content against 4 scales of satisfaction. Upon the training At ENAP, trainees are assesses based on their ability to solve specific situations. Seminar participants all agreed it is necessary to further tighten the learning assessment process with specific assessment criteria.
In conclusion, Assoc.Prof.Dr. Luong Thanh Cuong, NAPA Vice President highly appreciated the comments and exchange of experts and participants. He affirmed that the comments shared at the seminar suggested many ideas about how to design the program, how to organize the training, what to train as well as how to determine the strategy to achieve the goals of the development of training program for vice ministers. NAPA Vice President required the Department of International Cooperation to keep regular exchange with the international experts for their contributions to this training program.
In the afternoon on the same day, NAPA organized the seminar “Development of case studies for the training programs for public leaders and managers”. Presented in the seminar were international experts and NAPA faculties. The seminar provided valuable inputs for NAPA, especially when NAPA is assigned to develop the training courseware “Cases of management for the leadership and management training programs”.