By Staff Writer
The Director describes it as “probably the biggest provider of further education or the biggest student base on-island at the moment, yet the majority of the island has probably never heard of us.”
Those are the words of Graeme Jackson, Director of the Cayman Islands Civil Service College (CICSC), an apparently little-known but essential link in managing the delivery of services provided by the government.
Mr Jackson appeared on the Caymanian Times programme, The Panel, to discuss the role of the college in equipping public sector staff with the management skills critical to keeping the huge public sector apparatus functioning and fit-for-purpose.
According to its mandate, the Cayman Islands Civil Service College (CICSC) was established in 2007 “to further New Public Management reforms as well as the learning and development needs of the Cayman Islands Civil Service and to carry out research within the Caribbean region.”
Although it functions at the very heart of the government, there’s however no physical infrastructure that identifies the CSC. It's seemingly only known to those who participate in and benefit from its ongoing programmes from a training room deep within the labyrinthine corridors of Government Headquarters.
While admitting to its relative obscurity, CSC Director Jackson points to its impact as evidence of its success.
“We saw many instances with people reaching leadership and management positions and really struggling. They weren’t always getting the support they need. They weren't given the coaching and the mentoring. Some of them just weren't in the training. But training and development and leadership and management isn't difficult, it's not complex,” said Mr Jackson who took over the Director's job in 2019.
“And I really applaud the Deputy Governor (Franz Manderson) when he said, if you're going to manage civil servants in the civil service, then you must be competent to do that," he added.
Graeme Jackson leads a six-person team of trainers in the CSC supported by four associate trainers.
On the CSC’s website, his impressive bio reads: Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a Fellow of the Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM) and a member of the Association for Project Management. In addition, he is an accredited City and Guilds ILM tutor and internal verifier.
The CSC conducts much of their training in team sessions for civil service staff including an associate-degree programme with the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). It turns out between 12 and 20 graduates yearly.
In addition to training civil servants, the CSC is supporting a pilot programme to help high school students get interested in leadership and management at an early stage. The programme leads to an internationally recognised City and Guilds level 2 award.
One of the issues explored by co-host Mario E. Ebanks, a human resources consultant, was promotions through the ranks of the civil service linked to training and qualifications attained via the CSC programmes.
“What we're seeing is people who are going through the learning and development are getting the skills to be able to answer the questions in that interview environment. And we're giving them the structure to approach that. We are giving them the confidence that they can be successful," the CSC Director explained.
Panel co-host and former president of the UCCI (University College of the Cayman Islands, Dr Roy Bodden, explored challenges being faced by Director Graeme Taylor and his team in delivering their training curriculum.
“The real big challenge we've got is meeting demand, “ the CSC Director said while also discussing perceptions to training evident among some senior staff. “One of the criticisms in training from some of the managers is: ‘I wish my manager had done this training, or I wish my manager was here’.”
He said, “We're six people trying to deliver a lot of programs. One of the ways we are trying to tackle that at the moment is trying to find the best managers and offering to train them as trainers.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CSC has added an online element to their curriculum. That was of particular interest to host of The Panel and Caymanian Times publisher, Ralph Lewis.
“We were shut down for quite some time and there were many opportunities for some people to re-tool and retrain themselves. Did the students of the Civil Serviced College use that opportunity to educate themselves?” he asked.
According to CSC Director Jackson, being forced to revert to online courses as their training room was converted into the National Emergency Operations Center, may have opened up new opportunities for learning - and not just for the CSC.
“One of the upsides of that, is I think we need to rethink the way we deliver training and education going forward. And I think we're gonna see a massive transition, especially in the higher education sector, in terms of the way people learn."
He elaborated that "where we can add value is bringing people into the room and with that knowledge challenge the behaviours, challenge the assumptions and make it much more practical. And I think we need to see that carry over into the future for the education sector.”
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