17 April 2007

Why recruit followers when you can get leaders?

Source : Syed Nazri NST

THE Foreign Ministry, which is going on a massive recruitment drive, is apparently not the only governing body that is facing an acute staff shortage.

Its counterpart, on agriculture and agro-based industries, is facing a similar problem.

And much of it, it seems, is due to the repositioning of agriculture as one of the engines of growth in the Malaysian economy.

Minister in charge, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, lamented the situation during a dinner with editors the other day, saying that the thrust of agricultural development lay in the availability of knowledge and skills, particularly in the latest technologies related to the sector.

Those days, he said, the country counted on the agriculture college and later the agriculture university (Universiti Pertanian Malaysia or UPM) to play that role.

Then, there was a shift in policy and Malaysia was looking towards industrialisation and manufacturing as its base and no longer wanted too much emphasis on agriculture.

As a result, the role of UPM switched, too, as reflected in its change in name to Universiti Putra Malaysia. It began to produce very few graduates in agriculture since students saw little prospect in the course.

"Now we are back to looking at agriculture and we have to find the necessary expertise," he said.

"It’s like steering a big ship which is changing course. It’s a big task and never easy. But we have to do it."

According to the minister, about 110,000 trained officers are required by 2010, while the training institutes can only produce about 4,000 graduates a year.

And on the subject of vacancies in the Foreign Ministry, I have received many responses to my column on the matter last week.

One of them came from a Malaysian student in the United States who signed off as Suriani Kempe.

She said she was interested in applying but was unhappy that she couldn’t make any headway in contacting the right people.

"I’ve checked online on the government’s website — but it’s not exactly the most up-to-date or forthcoming, especially with regard to an urgent drive to recruit," she said.

Another was from Nurol Latif who questioned the whole process and system. Among other things, she said: "I have trained and equipped myself to fit the description of a young ambassador.

"But despite amusing people during my table topic speeches, being moderately knowledgeable in all areas and also physically fit for any situation, I was challenged by those who were far more beautiful, with high connections in the government or maybe those who would be deemed to be followers of the said government practice, not those who are considered a breath of fresh air, bringing more positive vibes and contemporary productive working culture to the government force.

"It dawned on me that, actually, my friends who had questioned my motives in joining the civil service were right.

"The government obviously either has poor selection or recruiting abilities, especially in determining the diamonds in the rough, or it actually wants to recruit followers and not leaders.

"My friends are equally if not better than me and are the bright ones who opted not to join the civil service because they fret that it will never change."

So there you are, Wisma Putra.

No comments: