Recognizing The Department of Agriculture’s Hidden Skills

By Gizelle McIntyre, Director of The Institute of People Development (IPD)

Growing up on a farm, surrounded by farmers without qualifications, gives an understanding for the need to deal with the practical nature of the occupation. These farmers knew the intricacies of the land – they just didn’t have a degree behind their name.

While conducting training at Limpopo’s Department of Agriculture in 2016, it became clear that staff members’ “paperwork” didn’t always reflect their experience. As a result, The Institute of People Development (IPD) embarked on a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) advisory campaign to enable the Department to build a RPL Policy, allowing it to RPL people into positions focusing on their skills set and experience.

In the civil service there are a lot of skills that are either not acknowledged, or the employees are not engaged, so they leave. Recruitment structures need to shift from qualifications only, to considering experience and skills sets. If this is not done, all succession planning is completely out of sync. Employing proper skills development facilitator functions helps to identify gaps. Once identified, the gaps can be filled – through training and skills-based recruitment.

The Department of Agriculture should be where new graduates or candidates want to go. Then the Department will have the freedom of recruitment. The key is to sell the Department of Agriculture more on career awareness and the broad scope of occupations available. There are limitless options, most of those employees working at the Department aren’t actually farmers – but candidates aren’t aware of the vast opportunities that exist within the sector.