Estonian Public Sector is Preparing for the EU Presidency: Ascertaining and Evaluation of the Capability Shortfalls of Officials
One of the preconditions for efficient officials is relevant and objective evaluation of capability (and also capability shortfalls), and ensuring purposeful training and coaching on the basis of this. The forthcoming EU presidency of Estonia in 2018 enhances the need for efficient officials even more, therefore it is necessary that during the years preceding the EU presidency, the existing capability shortfalls of the officials connected with the EU are ascertained, and they are provided the training they need. The purpose of the article is to analyse how the evaluation of the EU-related capabilities and knowledge of the Estonian officials has been conducted since 2002, and what have been the main lessons.
First the article introduces the methodological problems that arose during the studies conducted in 2002–2013 to determine the EU-related training needs of the Estonian offiials, and then offers solutions for improving the evaluation of the training needs of offiials.
As a result of the research, two main spheres where development is needed were pointed out. First, the principles for ascertaining the gap between the knowledge and the skills of officials and the needs of the future have to be improved, and second, the methodological solutions that would reduce over- or under-evaluation of knowledge, capabilities and competences have to be developed. Determining the training shortfalls as exactly as possible and objective evaluation of knowledge, skills and competences will ensure the ascertaining of the real training needs.
The author of the article makes the following suggestions for ensuring more objective evaluation of the capability shortfalls and training needs of offiials. First, during the data collection stage, it is necessary to ask the offiials clearly and unambiguously about their specifi training needs, not about the important issues, training wishes, etc. of their daily work. Second, in the data analysis stage it should be possible, by using different analysis instruments, to ascertain the filds where organising trainings is not a priority. Third, it is recommended to add a format for objectively measuring knowledge and skills (e.g. a test or observation) to the questions-based and evaluating research methods (questionnaires, interviews, expert opinions). Fourth, in order to avoid the giving of “expected” answers, the commissioner and the performer of the study have to do preparatory work with the offiials participating in the study already in the preparatory stage of the study (that is, inform and encourage the participants of the study), and to contribute to communication to reduce the possible fears of the offiials. Fifth, there should be earlier mutual communication to preclude the situations where the performer of the study is motivated to give “targeted” answers. If the performer of the study should for some reason presume that in the opinion of the commissioner it would be ideal that all offiials are on high level and do not need additional training, it is possible that this conviction will be transferred into the results of the training study, regardless of whether it actually is so.