Contribution of staff training to the performance of Uganda Foreign Service Officer (FSOS)
ARYABAHA, PHIDELIS EVANS
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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) strives to promote and protect Uganda's national interests abroad through robust foreign policy implementation in a dicey, dynamic, demanding and competitive global environment. But the effective execution of Uganda's foreign policy objectives still faces numerous challenges that make the performance of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) less gratifying to the officers, less rewarding to the Foreign Service, and less beneficial to the country in general. This study sought to examine the contribution of staff training to the performance of Ugandan FSOs. It examined the contribution of on-job training and off-job training to, and analysed the effect of resource availability and adequacy on the performance of Ugandan FSOs. Using a Cross-sectional Survey Design, the study was conducted at MoFA and its Missions abroad; with a sample size of 124 participants that included senior managers and FSOs, and covered the period 2010 - 2015. A standard questionnaire with closed-ended and open-ended questions and an interview guide with semi-structured questions were used to collect primary data. Documentary review was used to obtain secondary data. Quantitative data was analysed, interpreted and presented using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while qualitative data was analysed thematically. The study registered 61% response rate and 100% interview coverage, and the findings were presented concurrently. The study established that MoFA variously utilised on-job training and off-job training to enhance staff performance, but with persistent challenges that need to be addressed to realise more benefits. That FSOs' training was adhoc, inadequate, poorly resourced and largely foreign-driven; which made Uganda's Diplomatic Service less productive, less rewarding and vulnerable. The study found that resource availability and adequacy contributed most significantly to the performance of FSOs followed by on-job training, with 0.682 and 0.108 levels of significance respectively. At 0.005, offjob training made non-significant contribution to performance. The study concluded that adequate resources, appropriate skills and relevant knowledge remained crucial to the performance of FSOs. The study recommended that MoFA should champion enactment of a Foreign Service Act to streamline its operations; negotiate appropriate reclassification and increased funding; improve staff remunerations; and establish a diplomatic institute to build sustainable internal capacity through tailormade staff training programmes. Top management should lobby for a more favourable ratio for career officers to head Missions, and a significant scale-down on political appointments to lower ranks - in order to invigorate, promote and uphold professionalism in Uganda's Foreign Service.