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Know Your Civil Servant - Learning life skills on the job

2022-10-07  Staff Reporter

Know Your Civil Servant - Learning life skills on the job

When it comes to identifying which sector is going to give you the career you want, there is no perfect solution. The right fit for you will depend on your individual circumstances, priorities and career goals.

But public sector jobs usually do not top students’ job wish lists. And according to Lovisa Tumweneni Nghiwanapo, that is a mistake since the public sector presents workers with tremendous opportunities.

“I can say, hand on my heart, that working in the public sector is the most rewarding way I can contribute to society and earn a living,” she said.

Nghiwanapo joined the public service in 2016 – as an office administrator – while she was still studying at the International University of Management (IUM).  Happily narrating her story with a sense of pride, Nghiwanapo reveals she applied for the position because she was a human resources management student, and felt like it was in line with her field of study. Her observation was on point. She was hired.

“It’s very satisfying when your work and career allow you to meet your personal life mission,” she added.

The 31-year-old, originally from the Oshikoto region, currently holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from the same university and works as a human resources officer at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism – a position she has been in since 2017.


On the job

Nghiwanapo is responsible for administrative duties, such as maintaining an employee database and sorting emails for the HR department, scheduling meetings and interviews, organising events, and maintaining agendas within the human resources department.

She noted that being in HR for seven years enabled her to hone a set of skills that are equally beneficial for her, away from the office. Here, she is referring to her acquired conflict management ability and decision-making prowess. This further gave her a solid understanding of employee relationships, staff management, and payroll and benefits administration, she added.

Nghiwanapo also pointed to workplace counselling skills as another positive that she gained during the years that she has been serving the ministry.

“The workplace counselling skills I gained so far have put me in a position where I can be able to better engage with employees with problems, develop skills in empathy, demonstrate a more open and transparent approach to work, and build a closer trusting relationship with fellow staff members,” she said, adding that her counselling skills also allow her to better identify when it is time to refer an employee to a specialist workplace counsellor.

“I remember we had some employees who wanted to resign, and there was even one who wanted to end her life because of personal challenges. A colleague referred to them to the human resources division, and I had to provide counselling and then refer her to a social worker for further treatment. Today, she is a happy and progressive employee,” she continued.


The public service

When asked why she chose to work for the public service in particular, Nghiwanapo is quick to point out job security and capacity-building as some of the pulling factors.

“What I like about public sector institutions is that they are committed to realising their staff’s potential. Employees are often encouraged to enhance their skills set by participating in training programmes in order to progress in their profession,” she observed.

Nghiwanapo maintained that one of the biggest stress-inducing aspects, when it comes to working in the private sector, is job security. This she attributes to the fact that businesses in the private sector are always growing, changing, merging and restructuring, which can put a lot of strain on people who depend on their income to pay the bills.

“These kinds of concerns hardly exist in the public sector - the government will not go out of business, like a private company,” she argued.

In terms of capacity development, she believes that many public sector jobs provide excellent opportunities to gain experience and build useful new skills.

Having stayed in the government, Nghiwanapo oozes confidence as one happy civil servant, satisfied on the job and taking each challenge within her stride. She is not planning to go anywhere anytime soon, she revealed.

Said Nghiwanapo: “I see what the government is doing, and have an idea of where it is going. My plan is to grow further within the public service and to make an impact to the best of my abilities”.

2022-10-07  Staff Reporter

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