A. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The present scenario of business world today is characterized by a growing competitiveness, market globalization and technological advances in organization. The survival of an organization therefore implies the prosecution of sustainable competitive advantage. The knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees have become increasingly important to its performance, competitiveness and advancement. Theories placing the origin of these advantages outside the organization are now losing validity in favour of those centered on internal elements, especially the theory of resources and capacities development. In the light of the above, one of the cardinal objective of any organization is to provide goods and services to the general public. It does these all important role through the utilization of men and material resources available within the organization.
There is need to train and develop the human resources of the organization. Above all, the world is dynamic and in order to keep abreast with the changes in the organization’s environment, in-service training and developments has become imperative.
Among the internal resources which can be considered sources of competitive advantage as aforementioned is the human element mainly due to its intangible characteristics: knowledge, skills and attitudes (Wright et al, 1994; Kamoche, 1996; Mueller, 1996; Barney and Wright, 1998) and organizational knowledge (Bassi et al, 1998; Lee and Yang, 2000; Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Bollinger and Smith, 2001) are being given more and more significance. Although all practices of human resources are implied in the development of these resources, training is one of the main activity in order to have qualified, flexible, and proactive employees (Bartel, 1994; Raghuram, 1994; MacDuffe and Kochan, 1995) and to achieve the correct running of each stage of the process of knowledge management (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Bollinger and Smith, 2001). Organizations spend an enormous amount of time and money on training in order to assist employee’s learning of job-related competencies (Cascio, 2000; Noe, 2006). As a result of the financial investments organizations make in training, it is important to provide results that training efforts are being fully realized (Cascio, 2000; Dowling & Welch, 2005). The revenue cycle is driven by knowledge, innovation, and creativity all of which come from employees as shown in diagram one (1) below. Employers must actively and carefully manage these assets by investing in training as shown in a more detailed way in diagram two (2).
Diagram 1: Relationship Cycle
New employees are informally trained through trial and error, self assessment and introspection, and by asking questions. Experienced employees learn from on the job experiences. Yet this type of informal, unscheduled training can lead to waste of time and problems in workflow. Studies show that employees who develop through unstructured training are less productive during a developmental period that those who have formal training.
Organizations maintain a blurred position regarding investment in training. They generally accept training as an important means to improve employee productivity which ultimately leads to organizational productivity and effectiveness, a present demand for all organizations. But in practice, they usually face this challenge with cost control including training practices expenditure. This situation can be explained by the fact that organizations do not understand how investments in training can provide value. When training is not evaluated, the investment and its effects cannot be tested and resources can be wasted in inadequate activities (Foot and Hook, 1996; Gomez-Mefi’a et al, 1996). Sometimes, training evaluation is avoided because it is considered an expensive and time-consuming process (Buckley and Caple, 1991). At other times, the reason is the lack of measurement systems for determining the changes arising from training (Werther & Davis, 1991; Sole’ and Mirabet, 1997). Also, for training to be effective, various methods must be used because adults learn in different ways. Some individuals need written documents while others need to hear the information spoken aloud. Some do well in classroom settings and others excel through e-learning. However, all training should have one thing in common: it should incorporate application. To read or hear about something isn’t enough; successful training requires theory demonstration, as well as application.
Diagram 2: Detailed Relationship Cycle
In another vein, in view of the changing operating environment and those introduced by technological development, the human resources must change to keep pace with the change of times. There must be a deliberate training of men and women for new task and for new ways of behavior. That is why therefore the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) introduced the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) which required special training for Officers and Men of the Service to be acquainted with modern methods of trade facilitation leading to efficiency and greater productivity.
The main objective of this study is, taking the above mentioned situations into consideration, to compare and analyze the impact of training on employee productivity at NCS with the introduction of ASYCUDA. A researcher said that training increases or develops the managerial skills (Robert T. Rosti Jr, Frank Shipper, 1998), despite focusing on efficiency and cost control the spending on training should increase because organizations get more efficiency effectiveness out of the training and development (Workforce Special Reportage, 2006). Therefore, the emphasis of this study is that the training improves the organization performance. Training is important for the employee’s development and the employee development encourage self-fulfilling skills and abilities of employee, decreased operational costs, limits organizations liabilities and changing goals and objectives (Donald Nickels, M. A. 2009).
B. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is a well known fact that training enhances skills, knowledge, abilities and competencies (SKAC) and ultimately worker performance and productivity in organizations (G. A. Cole, 2002). The NCS and indeed other organizations in Nigeria in the public sector engage in training and development of staff and have departments, units and sectors solely in-charge of training and development. The NCS is one of such and has been practicing training and development since its beginning but more pronounced for the past five (5) years.
But noted also here, is that for some years past, training in NCS is unplanned, and unsystematic and several of its officers and men like the accountants, computer operators, secretaries, drivers and some of the general duty officers have not qualified for any form of training nor was there any systematic process of staff development in place not until of recent where the incumbent Comptroller General of Customs Abdullahi Inde Dikko, CFR brought hope in the training of officers and men of the service due to the modern trends incorporated in the NCS with a view attaining best practices. A brief interaction with some officers and men of the NCS see the cost incurred in the training of its officers as relevant that that expense on capital projects.
It is imperative to understand that the failure of the first and second development plans of Nigeria according to Adebayo (1982) were partly attributed to inadequate and lack of trained manpower to handle the development plan as programmed since the country has been experiencing low productivity due to the dearth of training personnel.
In the absence of training and development of officers by the management of the NCS, some of the officers sponsored themselves in furtherance of their education to obtain professional or higher level certificates. Officers who expressed the desire to pursue university education were not given any form of assistance like study leave with pay. Their applications for study were turned down. Those who sought for part-time were disengaged after their studies as management claimed their programs were not relevant to the service. The few ones who were retained had no promotion to match their added skills and competencies. Thus, the study is to access the role of training and development on human resource and how this affects officers’ performance. The fundamental research question being raised here is:
(1) Does training and development have an effect on officers and men performance and productivity at Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) with the introduction of ASYCUDA?
C. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to explain the training and development practices and processes including the assessment of training needs, and outline of training methods and the processes applied in NCS.
The specific objective; will be to find out whether training and development schemes have positive effect on the performance of officers and men (workers) and productivity.
D. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is twofold: academic and practical. Academically, this study seeks to appraise the possibility of NCS using the ASYCUDA programme in achieving the desired goal in the modern trends in the Nigerian Customs Service. It will be of great significance to students of management studies and those who have specialized on International Customs and the Nigeria Customs Service. Practically, the study will be of utmost importance to policy makers and management consultants to adopt adequate strategies in human resources training and development. It will also help the NCS in general and the government to appreciate the importance of Human Resource Training to officers’ productivity.
Based on the research problem outlined above and the related questions posed, the following arguments hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.
i. NCS has over the past five (5) years (2009 – 2014), been involved in training and development activities.
ii. The purpose of training and development activities at NCS (ASYCUDA) is to achieve individual and collective increased organizational performance.
iii. The policy fashioned to achieve the purpose of training and development is the provision of a coherently structured document for guidance and an improvement in access to training that is consistent with the purpose.
iv. Training and development activities at NCS have largely increased productivity (facilitated trade at NCS).
F. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is limited as it looks at the role and impact that training and development policies have played in the last ten (10) years of ASYCUDA programme introduction, using the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Human Resource Department (HRD) as a focal point between the years 2004 to 2014. The NCS holds a large population of employees. Accordingly the analysis and conclusions will be based on this time period.
G. LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Problems such as lack of sufficient funds and the indifference on the part of interviewees and respondents were limitations to the study as some of the employees felt uncomfortable and others simply not bothered. The absence or inaccessibility of reliable records and reports on NCS activities within the past ten (10) years also limited the research investigation to some extent. The unwillingness of management to divulge strategic information in the name of confidentiality is a limitation to the study.
H. METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION
Method of data collection specifies how the test of hypothesis is going to be carried out (Ifesinachi, 2010). The researcher relied heavily on primary and secondary sources of data collection. The researcher traces and development over the last ten (10) years from secondary sources. The purpose of the questionnaires was to investigate the awareness of training program and the role NCS plays in the training and development of its officers. It was to investigate why officers self-sponsored themselves to acquire new skills, knowledge and abilities, and how this affected performance.
Atleast a total of 80 respondents out of a sample of 100 officers completed and returned their questionnaires. Primary data was also sourced from semi-structured personal interviews conducted. Here an extensive decision was held with the NCS Training facilitators and the NCS Human Resource Comptroller. These interviews were also intended to provide general perception on how NCS has traditionally dealt with issues of training and development. A copy of the questionnaire is attached as Appendix 1, and an interview schedule attached as Appendix 2.
The secondary data, that constitutes the source of data, was gathered from the NCS Headquarters in Abuja, its Human Resource Department, books on Customs, concerning human resource management, training and development, newspapers, customs website etc.
I. RESEARCH INSTRUMENT
Comprehensive research instruments were developed and tested before the real investigation started. A questionnaire for this research was administered to 100 officers; this questionnaire was developed after discussions with the Deputy Comptroller General (DCG) of Human Resource Department (HRD). The items were subsequently edited and carefully selected bearing in mind the research questions. Items 1-3 was expected to provide an answer to the number of years officers has worked with the service (Customs), their gender as well as educational background. Items 8 – 12 of the questionnaire were to elicit information on training programme available at NCS (ASYCUDA) programme, their benefits to officers in the service.
Item 13 – 15 sought information on officer’s development and the role of management in assisting them while items 16 – 17 were to provide insight into the perception of officers as to whether officers were aware of any career progression that management had outlined for them. The remaining items were basically to throw more light on NCS’s training policies, the importance they attach to it and officers awareness of any such policies. The questionnaire greatly helped the researcher in her data analysis. Other minor tools used were personal interviews, occasional conversations and direct observation.
The group training manager (facilitator) and Human Resource Officer (Director) were also interviewed to ascertain whether NCS has been involved in training and development of officers over the last 10 years (2004 – 2014), whether there is a documented training policy in place, and whether, there are career progression, projections for all employees (Officers). Also, there were interviewed personally to ascertain the training policies and programs available for officers, that is non graduates junior officers of NCS. The same procedure was used to determine the importance attached to officer training and development, and their associated obstacles, and how training programs are evaluated.
To support the data collected through these interviews, questionnaires were administered to the various groups (cadre) of employees (staff) of NCS. A total of 100 questionnaires constituting 22, specially designed questions were administered personally to officers in the various units/department at convenience. Officers were given a couple of days to carefully fill out the questionnaires.