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Change public sector mentality


Change public sector mentality

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BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Minister of State Wendy Phipps is calling for a change in the public sector workforce ethics that is based on productivity and meritocracy rather than one of entitlement.

Speaking on the radio programme Working For You this week, the minister, coming from a private sector background, said the Government aims at creating a different workforce culture within the public sector.

“The clients with whom I have interacted and the membership base that I would have been advocating on behalf of, would have been approaching issues with workplace performance, productivity and so forth from the standpoint of merit, and the public sector is a departure from that,” she said.

Minister Phipps’ professional experience has been mostly private sector involvement and advocacy although her career started in the public sector as a teacher at Basseterre high School. She was a Director of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for several years before branching off into her own business and a business advocacy and support services consultant.

She noted the significance of setting targets and standards in a bid to improve the quality of the government workforce.

“We want to run a public sector that recognises that because we are small, because we are challenged, because we have a relatively smaller labour force than most islands, we have to make sure that at the same time, the national competitiveness of St Kitts and Nevis is largely characterised by the quality of our workforce in the public as well as in the private sector,” Minister Phipps said. “The best way for us to do that is to set targets and set standards in terms of performance and productivity.”

The minister stressed that the focus in the public sector should be on performance and not workers just showing up for work, but not being productive. Such productivity, she said would be the determinant factor in promotions. To support her point, the minister referred to Singapore, a small island economy that departed from the sugar manufacturing industry, similar to St Kitts and Nevis, but was able to transform its workforce and by extension, its economy.

“What Singapore has been able to do over the past 50 or 60 years is to do the type of economic transformation that stayed in the mindset of the people who work there,” Senator Phipps said, adding that that has resulted in the economic output of Singapore, a success she hopes St Kitts and Nevis can emulate.

“That is the kind of future that I think that we have the potential to set up in St Kitts and Nevis but it has to start at the individual level,” she said. (SKNIS)