(State Management Review) – The Resolution of the Seventh Plenum of the Twelfth Central Party Committee focusing on building a contingent of civil servants at all levels, especially at the strategic level with required qualities, competences and prestige, capable to assume the assigned tasks is a breakthrough in our Party’s theoretical thinking on building staff at strategic level. It has emphasized the strengthening of the capacity of international integration, especially communication skills and ability to work in an international environment for cadres and civil servants in general and cadres at strategic level in particular.
The Party and State’s views on building capacity of civil servants at all levels, especially at strategic level
The Resolution the Seventh Plenum of the Twelfth Central Party Committee focusing on building a contingent of civil servants at all levels, especially at the strategic level with high qualities and competences is a breakthrough in our Party’s theoretical thinking on building cadres at strategic level. This is the first document of the Party which provides a comprehensive assessment of building a contingent of cadres at strategic level and a basis for issuing a thematic resolution on cadres at strategic level (Resolution No. 26-NQ/TU dated May 19, 2018 – hereinafter referred as Resolution No. 26).
The Resolution stated: “Cadres at strategic level must have political stance; be consistent with Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh ideology, the goals of national independence and socialism; possess innovation thinking, capability of guideline and policy formulation; capable of leading and directing the organization of the guideline and policy implementation”. At the same time, Resolution No. 26 also frankly pointed out the fact that “there are many carders including high-ranking one who lack professionalism, hold the jobs they are not specialized in and strong at, have limited capacity of foreign language and communication, working in an international environment”.
The Resolution 26 sets out 5 points of view for building a contingent of cadres in general and those at strategic level in particular. The first viewpoint is that “Building a contingent of cadres, especially those at strategic levels the most important task of the Party, which must be conducted regularly, seriously, scientifically and effectively. Investing in cadre building is an investment for long-term and sustainable development”.
The second point of view is to strictly and consistently follow the principle that the Party conducts direct and comprehensive leadership of personnel affairs and cadre management in the political system.
The third point of view is to uphold and act according to the objective rules, regularly innovate the personnel work in accordance with the practical situation. The building of a contingent of cadres must be based on the requirements and tasks of the new period, actual activities and revolutionary movements of the people.
The fourth point of view is to obey strictly the principle of the relation between the political guideline and the personnel guideline, the relation between class perspectives and the great solidarity policy in the personnel work. It is a must to handle harmoniously and reasonably the relation between the required standards and structures while the standards are more important; the relation between constructing and combating, while the first is a strategic, fundamental, and long-term task, the latter is a regular and important one; the relation between virtue and talent, while virtue is the foundation; the relations between popularity and specificity, between inheritance and innovation stability and development, between authority and responsibility, between individualism and collectivism.
The fifth point of view is that building a contingent of cadres is the responsibility of the entire political system, firstly of the Party committees and organizations, then the heads of these committees and organizations, the Party’s advising organizations, of which those in charge of personnel are key actors.
This is the first time the Party has developed its comprehensive theories of the building of cadres at strategic level to meet the requirements of industrialization, modernization, market economy development and international integration. At the same time, the Party is well aware that sometimes the personnel guideline does not keep up with the political guideline when the first has changed but the latter has remained in status quo. There are special cases when absolutization of class perspectives causes a failure to identify talented people; when emphasis is more given on the structure than on the standards; when “virtue” is not properly focused on in relation to “talent”. These weaknesses have made the personnel work ineffective.
Resolution No. 26 assesses that: “Cadres are not the same in terms of competences, are poor in certain areas; many of them including high-ranking officials lack professionalism, hold the jobs they are not specialized in and strong at, have poor capacity of foreign languages communication skills, working in an international environment”. The assessment of Resolution No. 26 shows the importance of strengthening the training of cadres at strategic level in general and diplomacy knowledge and skill training to deal with the issue mentioned in the Resolution, that is enhancing international integration capacity, especially communication skills and ability to work in an international environment.
Objective requirements of the training on external relations for cadres and civil servants in the context of wider international integration
The world is changing quickly and fundamentally. The political and economic situation in the world continues to be complicated and contains many risk and instability, which have strongly impacted on security and development environment of many countries. International relations, especially those between big countries are increasingly complex and diversified.
The global and regional situation has had a strong impact on Vietnam’s external relations. After more than 30 years of renovation, the country has gained certain achievements. At present, Vietnam has large space and sufficient conditions to strengthen and enhance its position in the region and the world. Vietnam has established strategic partnership with 16 countries, comprehensive partnership with 14 countries, and special partnership with 2 others. The rapid and unpredictable changes of the world make the external relations difficult ,Protecting sovereignty, territorial integrity and ensuring a peaceful and stable environment will encounter challenges. The Party and State’s viewpoint on international integration is “Proactive and active international integration, upholding the foreign policy of independence and self-reliance for the interest of the country and nation, for peace, cooperation and development; maintaining the foreign policy of openness, multilateralization and diversification of international relations”.
The need to improve the qualifications, capacity and knowledge of cadres at all levels to make them adaptable to integration, able to work in an international environment. Especially it is very important and urgent to train on diplomatic knowledge for cadres at strategic officials in the current situation.
The actual situation of training on knowledge and skills in external relations for cadres and civil servants
Being fully aware of the Party and State’s guidelines on the requirement to build a contingent of cadres and civil servants capable to assume assigned tasks in the context of globalization and international integration, training institutions for cadres and civil servants has focused on international integration knowledge and skills in external relations as follows:
The content and materials of the training programs for cadres and civil servants have been added with modules on the objective inevitability of the globalization of economy, culture and society, national defense and security under the impact of productive force development and industrial revolutions over time, especially in recent decades. In addition, modules on political theories, public management, national defense and security have been supplemented and updated with international experience, lessons and relevance to Vietnam. At the same time, thematic presentations on models, contents and methods of handling economic, trade, social issues, national defense and security as well as foreign affairs have been delivered in the training programs for cadres and civil servants.
Teaching staff for the training programs were given opportunities to take fields trips abroad or attend international scientific conferences and seminars to have better understanding of international issues so that they can update their teaching and research. They are encouraged to improve their foreign language skill, especially their English proficiency for their job and their ability to approach the world knowledge. In addition to enhancing expertise of domestic lecturers, the training institutions have actively invited international scholars and experts to deliver training in the training programs.
There have been innovations in the organization of training courses. Cadres and civil servants are sent abroad to study international successful and unsuccessful management stories of socio-economic issues, science and technology, education, culture to update and improve their knowledge and experience in management. Ministries, central agencies and localities. have organized international training courses, scientific workshops and seminars with the participation of the world leading experts to improve the capability of cadres and civil servants, especially the capability to apply what have been learnt into their assigned tasks.
The Central Organizing Committee, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the People’s Committees of the provinces and the cities directly under the Central Government have also developed and organized the implementation of projects for overseas title-based training for cadres and civil servants holding leading and managerial positions. Practical results from the projects can be seen as follows: the effectiveness of advisory work and management of the trained cadres and civil servants has been promoted through application of international experience and methods of handling economic, social issues . At the same time, their foreign language skills (especially English), their understanding about cultures, research methods, management and working styles have been much improved through this kind of training programs.
However, apart from the positive changes, some limitations can be found in the training on external relations and international integration for cadres and civil servants as follows:
First, the training content is restricted to updating and adding issues of international integration and globalization to the related modules, but there haven’t been or had hardly separate modules of management theories, models, operation mechanism, tools, regulatory methods or analysis of national and international impacts of public management of economy, culture – society, national defense and security affairs in different countries around the world. This may lead to the fact that the trainees are not fully and comprehensively aware of both the theory and practice of the subjects in the training modules. Therefore, , they are likely to be dogmatic and mechanical when applying it into practice, which causes ineffectiveness of the training.
Second, cadres and civil servants of organizations in the same sector or the same locality were sent for training to different countries with big difference in development, history, natural conditions and economic-social status. As a result, the trainees of different overseas courses have different perspectives for a same issue. This leads to the inconsistencies and contradiction in policy recommendation or management advice , which makes difficulties in policy making and effective management. On the other hands, many delegations of cadres and civil servants of the overseas training courses are sent to the same organization A lack of a good preparation of the site visits and study topics, and ignorance of the findings of the previous delegations lead to poor results and duplicated research causing waste in public budget and resources.
Third, knowledge of the culture and history of other nations, communication styles, negotiation and presentations skills used in external relations have not been paid much attention to in the training. This may cause confusion and lack of confidence when cadres and civil servants communicating, working and living in an international environment, which results in low effectiveness in work relating to foreign affairs.
Fourth, spoor ability of foreign languages, especially English of cadres and civil servants. Foreign language training programs for cadres and civil servants are not practical and not as good as expected. They were sent to foreign language classes funded by different sources just for the qualification requirements according to standards of their ranks, not really for the purpose of strengthening their capacity to access international knowledge, cultures and laws to do better performance in their management. Poor capacity of foreign languages and less training on external relations and international culture significantly prevent them from working in international environments.
Fifth, facilities and forms of the training on external relations for cadres and civil servants remain out of date, preventing trainees from self-study and self-research. Training programs including E- training (online training, distance training) are just in a small number with poor quality. Facilities, infrastructure, technology (and foreign language capacity) are not good enough for them to participate in international scientific conferences and workshops or work with foreign experts, scientists, managers and partners via the internet. Training programs for cadres and civil servants need to combine overseas training and domestic training. There’s still a little direct lecturing of international scientists and experts, therefore the update and supplement of international knowledge and experience to training courses are till far from satisfactory.
Orientations for the training on external relations for cadres and civil servants
Resolution No. 26 has set specific objectives: building a contingent of cadres at strategic level that truly represent politics, ideology, qualities, competence and prestige; over 15% of them under 45 years old; 40% – 50% are able to work in an international environment.
To achieve the specific objective of building a contingent of cadres at strategic level who are able to work in an international environment , it is necessary to clearly identify the training target groups and training needs; training content and materials; to develop teaching staff and appropriate teaching methods; to promote training on international relations, external relations, diplomacy knowledge and skills and foreign language capacity for civil servants to meet the requirements of the current period.
Firstly, fostering knowledge of international relations, foreign affairs and diplomatic skills and foreign language capacity should be identified as an important task to be implemented in the overall training programs for cadres and civil servants. Specific objectives of Resolution 26 requires political determination and synchronous awareness. This is an ambitious objective which is perfectly consistent with the country’s international integration process. Cadres and civil servants are not only a force involving in the policy making process but also in the implementation of specific international integration policies. Therefore, the feasibility of realizing the objective of improving the capacity of human resources depends greatly on the awareness of the importance of the cadres and civil servant training. This task requires to promote communication and increase awareness of the Party’s Resolution No. 26.
Secondly, the training programs on foreign affairs for cadres and civil servants, especially those at strategic level, can be adjusted in different stages. In the short term, the duration of the module on external relations may last longer. In the training programs for potential cadres for strategic positions, it is necessary to provide a system of theory and knowledge of international relations, external relations, and diplomacy knowledge and skills.
In the long term, in response to the country’s urgent requirements in international integration as well as to achieve the objective of 50% of cadres at strategic level s capable of working in international environments, it is an urgent and important task to develop a specific training program on foreign affairs. Therefore, in addition to the adjustment of training duration, it is important to update the training contents to improve the international integration capacity of cadres and civil servants. Some groups of contents that can be incorporated into the training courses on international relations and foreign affairs are as follows: the system of theory on international relations, strategic planning and analysis skills, and necessary skills to meet the requirements of working in an international environment.
Thirdly, it is a need to build capacity of the faculties in training cadres at strategic level on foreign affairs. It is necessary for the training institutions to involve both their teaching staff and inviting lecturers including experts, scientists, managers who are able to provide professional knowledge and management experience for cadres and civil servants. The teaching staff possess sound expertise and have long training experience. This combination will provide cadres and civil servants with both profound theoretical and rich practical knowledge , which is a key factor to develop capacity for cadres and civil servants. Resources for attracting international experts to participate directly into training process should be also much focused.
Fourthly, there should be an innovation in training methods, promoting the activeness and creativity of course participants, combining traditional teaching with IT-based training and internet applications, building a culture of self-learning and self-research, providing good conditions and an environment for cadres and civil servants to study and improve themselves.
It is necessary to apply modern technology in c training cadres at strategic level , taking into account of the space and time condition of this target group. E-training through “virtual classroom”, simulation, and digital lectures should become a trend of the cadres and civil servant training in the near future. he current training for cadres and civil servants requires more specialization to upgrade their knowledge, skills and behaviors, more training inputs to be provided while there is a limit of time, financial and human resources. E-training is just the key to solve this paradox.
Fifthly, promoting exchanges and cooperation between the training institutions and foreign affairs agencies can help to amend and update the training programs and enhance the capacity of lecturers. In addition, international cooperation in foreign affair training is also an important factor contributing to the effectiveness, modernization of the training programs.
Training knowledge of international relations, external relations, and diplomacy skills is a mandatory task that needs to be implemented synchronously. In order to fulfill this task, it is important to develop support policies and concrete roadmaps, implement specific activities synchronously and comprehensively, apply incentives and sanctions for violations to ensure the feasibility and effectiveness of this important task./.
By Dr. Dang Xuan Hoan, NAPA President