The work related competences of local government officials

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For the training of local government officials, so far there is no central institution in Estonia. Hence, the trainings are mainly influenced by a market-driven model. The trends show that the driving forces for in-service training are, above all, the changing demands of the professional work, developments in technology and the growth of network-based team work. The in-service training of the officials is predominantly based on the individual decisions made in local governments to buy the training services from the market in accordance with their needs and the financial possibilities of the city or rural municipality. The Estonian state is not systematically involved in the development of local government officials. One possibility to systematically approach the training and development of local government officials is to implement a competence-based approach. In the work that Geomedia has undertaken, an overview of the theoretical background of the competence-based approach is given, followed by the analysis of its strengths and limitations in comparison with other training needs’ evaluation methods. The concept of competence is explained as well as the use of competence models and competence-based management in local and international practices, including local government officials’ management and development in the Netherlands, Slovenia and Finland. The widespread introduction of competence-based management is related to the need to increase the capacity of organizations in an environment that is increasingly competitive and which has limited resources. Individual employees’ and managers’ performance growth is considered as one of the increased capability enablers. A competence-based questionnaire was developed for the evaluation of the Estonian local government officials’ training needs. In addition to the analysis of general competences, four separate fields were focused on: education, social work, development planning and spatial planning. For the creation of the list of competences, the qualification requirements provided by law and other legal acts as well as the academic curricula and job descriptions were mapped out. An online survey was conducted among local government officials, with the total of 574 respondents. As a result, a picture based on self-assessment of the necessary competences and behaviors was drawn. The analysis and the recommendations for the organization of a central training system for local government officials was prepared. The authors of the analysis recommend to conduct competence-based development and assessment interviews, laying the foundation for the design of more consistent quality services all over Estonia, which takes into account the specifics of a particular local government and the individual employee when planning the development.

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