(delivered by Chairman Francisco T. Duque III at the 39th National Convention of the Philippine Society for Training and Development Foundation Inc.
held May 28, 2014 at Summit Ridge Hotel, Tagaytay City)

Officials and staff of the Philippine Society for Training and Development or PSTD Foundation Inc., honored guests, fellow lingkod bayani, on behalf of the Civil Service Commission, I extend my warm greetings to everyone, especially to the HR practitioners in our midst. It is a privilege to be with you on this occasion, and we congratulate the PSTD for its 39 years of supporting human resource (HR) and organization development (OD) nationwide.

This convention reminds me of the recent Human Resource or HR Symposium we had at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel last April 24-25. Themed “Gearing Toward ASEAN Integration Through Strategic HR”, we paid attention to the role of Strategic HR in building HR excellence in the country to make us at par with global HR standards. PSTD is likewise committed to bringing in breakthrough strategies in workplace learning and performance improvement. This is a crucial aspect of human resource (HR) and organizational development (OD), and we are very much supportive of PSTD’s initiatives in modernizing HR culture in the country, especially in terms of learning and development.

CSC'S TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY

Let me start the discussion by talking about the CSC first. CSC will be 114 years old this coming September. From a bureau in the early 1900s to a Commission in the 1950s and onwards, it has assumed many roles in the broad range of HR functions. Since the beginning, it was tasked to uphold the merit and fitness system in the government. This means only the best and the brightest should be in the government service. The rationale behind this is that excellent human resource equals excellent public service. Learning and development or L&D principles were already there, but they were not as pronounced and expressed as we would like them to be.

Today, CSC functions as the premiere human resource institution of the Philippine government. It also acts as adviser to the President on personnel management of the Philippine government. Per the 1987 Constitution, we are mandated to “establish a career service, adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, and courtesy in the civil service, strengthen the merit and rewards system, integrate all human resource development programs for all levels and ranks, and institutionalize a management climate conducive to public accountability.”

If I can summarize our journey as an HR institution in one word, it would be change. Our transformation has not been an easy one, but it has truly been worth it. Change is reflected in how we see and do things before and how we see and do things now. We are always on the lookout for better HR practices, for human resource development (HRD) and human resource management (HRM) trends, and for international standards. That is why our history is marked with paradigm shifts. We do not want to simply maintain status quo, because we know that if we want to see results, we have to implement changes as well.

As a result of changes in the CSC, we were able to enhance and develop our programs even further. We gave birth to five HR initiatives. Through these HR initiatives, various HR core systems also took on new forms, including L&D.

LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

L&D finds its roots in education theory, referring to the process of knowledge management and its effect among people. The link between learning and development has long been proven in education, and L&D frameworks have also been applied to post-formal education or what we call continuing education. Since organizations are built on people, it is inevitable for L&D to find its permutations in HR.

Leading HR theorist, Michael Armstrong, defines L&D as “the process of acquiring and developing knowledge, skills, capabilities, behaviors, and attitudes through experience, events, and programs provided by the organization, guidance, and coaching provided by line managers and others, and self-directed or self-managed learning activities. It is concerned with ensuring that the organization has the knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged workforce it needs.”

According to studies on HR and L&D, L&D has implications in the ability of professionals to meet competencies and to reach performance levels demanded by a particular job or organization . L&D lends itself to developing talent, preparing people for promotion, intervening in competency gaps, and enabling optimum performance.

From this alone, we can see how Learning and Development or L&D is crucial in Strategic HR. The Asian Development Bank or ADB says learning is the key to the success and survival of today’s organizations. A 48-year organization like the ADB still recognizes the fact that it needs to continuously enrich its knowledge through internal and external learning if it wants to remain as a leading regional development bank in the Asia and Pacific regions. In the past four decades of its operation, many changes have occurred in the region in which it moves. This ever-changing landscape provides the impetus by which ADB evolves—it cannot stop learning and developing because the world does not stop changing either.

The ADB experience identifies a number of major shifts that emphasize the importance of learning and development—new agenda, new partners, new pressures, new instruments, and new horizons. These are five aspects that I would want to look at in discussing the CSC experience as well, especially since similar to ADB, we have aspects of our functions that touch on development.

 

Our agenda now is more pronounced and encompassing—to become Asia’s leading center of excellence for strategic human resource and organizational development by 2030, and to make every civil servant a servant-hero (or gawing lingkod bayani ang bawat kawani).

 

NEW AGENDA

A hundred years in service is no joke. This institution has had its share of “landscape changes”, so to speak, in the many decades it has been in existence. It has even witnessed the colonial era and the transition from the Spanish to the American period. At that time, governance is vastly different from what we have today. From era to era, we see a different agenda at play in the way government works. Fast forward years later, in 2010, when the CSC underwent the Performance Governance System or PGS and assessed itself in terms of its functions and capabilities, and where it wants to go. We have earned three Silver Trailblazer Awards since we started. We are about to enter the final stage, the Institutionalization Stage, and by then we hope we have moved closer to our goal.

By undergoing PGS, our agenda now is more pronounced and encompassing—to become Asia’s leading center of excellence for strategic human resource and organizational development by 2030, and to make every civil servant a servant-hero (or gawing lingkod bayani ang bawat kawani). That is now our new agenda, our main agenda. With this agenda in mind, there needs to be HR initiatives that would address competency gaps of people in an organization.

The Competency-Based Learning and Development Program or CBLDP is an HR initiative that directly addresses the problem of competency gaps. What do we mean by a competency-based L&D? Basically, it is an approach that uses competencies as the standards against which employee development needs are assessed and priorities are set against the need of the organization. Competency-based L&D utilizes competencies as the foundation for designing targeted programs with learning outcomes that directly link to the competency requirements.

Under the CBLDP, trainings that are given to employees are focused on their needs. L&D opportunities include formal classroom training, on-the-job training, self-development, and development activities and interventions.

L&D is so much more than holding seminars, however. It is actually a system. The CSC’s Learning and Development System is anchored on four principles: First, all L&D interventions in an organization are based on identified and verified needs that are directly aligned to the organization’s goals and objectives. Second, these interventions are deliberately and systematically designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated. Third, L&D practitioners are well-coordinated and competent in the conduct of their respective roles. Lastly, L&D efforts and activities are properly planned, integrated, synchronized, and consistently performed in accordance with established quality standards.

The system is also a cycle. As you can see here, the typical training cycle includes training needs analysis, training design and development, training evaluation, and training delivery. CSC’s framework however corresponds to the Strategic HR framework. An HR intervention such as this should not be as simple as giving seminars. Instead, each L&D initiative should have something to do about enabling each official and employee to bring the organization closer to its goal. The L&D framework takes into account institutional needs that must be addressed, a training plan that outlines strategies to address gaps, and a learning and development management system that ensures all training interventions complement each other. This way, every aspect of L&D is interrelated and purposeful—nothing is done randomly or without basis. This framework enables the CSC to address competency gaps of its own employees and of the whole bureaucracy as well.

Years ago, we only looked at L&D as training. However, a number of training hours in an individual’s resume does not necessarily reflect his or her level of competency. Hindi lang naman training ang nag-a-assure ng development, hindi rin ibig sabihin na competent na agad ang isang tao after undergoing training. Marami pang ibang aspeto. That is why our L&D framework is a system, as I’ve mentioned before.

Now, we consider L&D as the link between individual and organizational performance. Why are there high performing organizations? Because there are high performing people—people that have undergone development interventions through L&D. While we only looked at individual performance before, now we look at agency performance as well, particularly its HR maturity level or its ability to make HR part of agency strategy. Therefore, there is a need to make the development of individuals keep up pace with the maturity level of an agency. This signals the need to upgrade L&D, and this is also a message to the bureaucracy that L&D has taken on a new form.

NEW PARTNERS

For years, the CSC has been expanding its reach and boosting its resources through partnerships with both public and private as well as local and international organizations that share the same vision and goals. By engaging with different partners, CSC gains different perspectives and reaches different audiences. This is crucial in keeping in touch with different sectors in society, which enables the CSC to play a more dynamic role.

In recent years, we have been fortunate enough to work with new partners. Always worth mentioning is our partnership with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Philippines-Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility, or simply referred to as the Facility. After a series of workshops and assessments with various learning service providers, the CSC had to turn itself inside out in order to realize mistakes, face reality, and implement lasting changes. This was a necessary step in developing and improving our services, specifically our HR initiatives, in order to truly reflect our status as the premier HR institution of the Philippine government.

With the help of the Facility, the CSC launched a number of HR initiatives, including L&D. We focused on developing our training arm, the Civil Service Institute or CSI, which provides direct training and human resource development interventions to all government officials and employees. We strengthened the CSI; formulated its new business model; relaunched it with a new brand, logo, and tagline; equipped its people; and had it undergo a workshop on the complete training cycle. We are now applying all of these things to our L&D system.

The Facility has also helped us upgrade L&D practices. Our HR initiatives, along with their respective programs, now operate under the Strategic HR framework. Upcoming scholarship programs to be offered in partnership with the Australian Government will also be focused on training, and our target beneficiaries are human resource management practitioners. These are the people who can really influence the progress of HR systems in government. They have been quite neglected in terms of L&D interventions, so now we are looking to empower them and tap their potential in bringing in a new era of HR in the Philippines.

As a result of our efforts, we have been given an ISO 9001:2008 certification by TÜV Rheinland Philippines, a certifying body for quality management systems, after passing a third-party audit. Having an ISO-certified training institute means that government employees can avail of trainings with internationally-accepted standards, all year round. We are excited to see the results of these changes, and to get feedback from the many civil servants that avail of our trainings. More importantly, we are eager to continue working with our partners in developing HR and OD in the country, and to explore new partnerships in the future in the name of learning and development.

We place importance in public-private partnerships because we need to enrich our own systems and at the same time we need you to help us place the building blocks of Strategic HR. We alone cannot do it; we need your help and expertise. Involving HR practitioners from different sectors, and from the PSTD as well, help us have a better and faster journey towards our goal.

 

At the CSC, we have two L&D tracks: our own HR track that caters to our own officials and employees, and the CSI track that caters to the rest of the bureaucracy. As we upgrade our own workforce, we also take care of upgrading the Philippine government through L&D. 

 

NEW PRESSURES

As with any situation that requires change, there are always new pressure. Pressure from stakeholders demanding for results. Pressure from people expecting real changes and not superficial ones. Pressure from ourselves who are betting on change to solve problems and reach targets.

When we implemented the Change Management Program of the CSC as a way of engaging and energizing our human resource and enabling and empowering them in HR excellence, we had to face all of these pressures. Wherever there is change, there is resistance, so they say. One reason for this is that the people involved are not ready to go from point A to point B. There will always be gaps.

In a way, L&D mitigates this pressure by preparing our human resource for what’s in store for them, and engaging them in aspiring for bigger and better things. When people are on board in a new undertaking, there will be less pressure and more confidence. L&D provides a venue by which our human resource or talents could address gaps, so to speak, and equip themselves to be ready for new demands in the organization. A competent workforce will then be able to fit into the new paradigm easily.

NEW INSTRUMENTS

Because we are now operating under the Strategic HR framework, we cannot have separate and piecemeal human resource functions anymore. All HR functions should be integrated and form part of the agency strategy in pushing for results and reaching its goals. That is why the CSC’s HR initiatives are also integrated—one works in tandem with the other.

Aside from the Competency-Based Learning and Development Program or CBLDP, we have the Program to Institutionalize Meritocracy and Excellence in Human Resource Management or PRIME-HRM that aims to upgrade the maturity level of HR systems in government agencies to make them at par with global HR standards. We also have the Competency-Based Recruitment and Qualification System or CBRQS that gauges both applicants and employees not just on the basis of their eligibility, education, experience, and training, but on a set of required competencies as well.

Further, we have the Leadership and Coaching Program or LCP, wherein we adopt the coaching approach to help our human resource get over hurdles and challenges in their career. Lastly, we have the Strategic Performance Management System or SPMS, a performance evaluation system that links individual performance to organizational performance. All of these HR initiatives are designed to upgrade both human resource and the organization.

L&D is crucial in helping the rest of the HR initiatives work effectively. As the SPMS gauges the performance of the human resource, L&D helps them improve and get better at their respective jobs. L&D complements PRIME-HRM by upgrading the knowledge and skills of the human resource as the agency goes up from one maturity level to the next. Because L&D addresses competency gaps, it enables the human resource to meet the qualification standards under the CBRQS. L&D and Coaching also complement each other because they both provide an environment of learning and growth for the human resource.

As you can see, L&D permeates every aspect of one’s career and has a direct effect in an organization’s performance. At the CSC, we have two L&D tracks: our own HR track that caters to our own officials and employees, and the CSI track that caters to the rest of the bureaucracy. As we upgrade our own workforce, we also take care of upgrading the Philippine government through L&D.

NEW HORIZONS

Upgrading L&D practice in government is part and parcel of upgrading HR and OD practices. Our goal is to shift from Transactional HR which is traditional, piecemeal, and disengaged, to Strategic HR, which is cutting edge, integrated, and integral in the agency strategy. This is the new horizon in HR and OD.

The CSC experience in upgrading L&D practice goes back to the framework I have showed you earlier. A strategic L&D management system ensures that: first, all components that contribute to the implementation of L&D interventions are aligned with each other and are well-coordinated; second, the output of one component is considered as a significant output to the succeeding components; and third, the components or stages in the system are not implemented in isolation of each other. We have included this in the Human Resource Development Planning (L&D) Guidebook, which we have produced with the help of the Facility. This Guidebook outlines important L&D principles and gives prescriptive points for organizations to craft their own L&D initiatives. We hope this Guidebook would help all HR practitioners and managers, be it in the public or private sector. After all, we all look forward to new horizons.

CONCLUSIONS

Upgrading L&D is part of breaking away from transactional HR and shifting to Strategic HR. As we upgrade L&D in government, we are meeting our goal of building a competent and highly motivated workforce. By doing this, we will also be able to meet global HR standards.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, breaking away from tradition is not an easy road to go through. If we want new results, however, it is necessary to have a new mindset and to use new strategies. L&D will help bring about the changes we want in HR.

CSC believes that there is always an opportunity to learn and grow. From being an office, a bureau, and finally a Commission, the CSC has certainly grabbed every opportunity to learn from its past, to learn from the old and the new, and to exemplify what it has learned as well. The HR initiatives we now offer reflect the fruits of L&D throughout the years. As the CSC developed and matured, the quality of our services, including L&D, has also reached its full potential. I hope you gain insight from our journey. I also hope that you will reap the fruits of L&D in your organizations as well, knowing that human resource is your most valuable resource and thus deserves premium development interventions.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the convention and learn from distinguished speakers. Once again, congratulations to the officials and staff of the PSTD for holding this event. Thank you very much and mabuhay.