Policy Making Workshop

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The 11 participants on the recent British Council “Policy Making” Workshop held in London (30 Oct -3 Nov) represented a range of Director/General Secretary level appointments in the Kuwait government including Health, Planning, Social Affairs, Justice, Public Works, Manpower Planning, Culture and Civil Service Commission. We had decided to invite them to propose a real Kuwait policy case study theme that we could work with during the week. This would ensure that the training would be immediately relevant and that UK policy models would need to be shown to be adaptable to the very different Kuwait governmental context and culture. The participants came up with a list of possibilities but there was a consensus that we should work with “How to encourage Kuwaiti job seekers to apply for, accept and commit to private sector rather than public sector jobs”. This was presented as a serious strategic challenge as young Kuwaitis are not attracted to private sector employment with its lesser security, abundance of non-Kuwaiti employees under pay and conditions of employment less favourable than for the public (government) sector. Apparently, government incentives to join the private sector did initially attract Kuwaiti recruits but they would then frequently claim the financial benefits only to leave shortly. This was a complex cultural as well as economic problem for the country but participants were keen to work on it in depth during the week.

We applied a range of policy tools including a Stakeholder Analysis to identify as many of the influencers and those impacted as possible. We were able to explore how schools, universities, students, parents, private and public sector employers amongst others, viewed the issue and how we might research their stake and consult them. We used an Issue Tree approach to confirm exactly how we would define the problem and invited participants to develop a range of options using creative policy tools drawn from the UK Cabinet Office Open Policy Toolkit. The participants were drawn to policy initiatives which would focus on influencing job seekers’ attitudes and resistances rather earlier than at the point of joining the employment market and therefore whilst still in education. We contrasted the possibility on the one hand of mounting annual exhibitions which could be attended by employers, students and parents offering successful case examples of private sector employment, and on the other, of designing a pilot working within a carefully selected sample of schools to identify precisely those factors that would draw students toward private sector employment and those factors that put them off. The latter then could be fed into a more successful tailored multi-agency governmental approach to incentivise private sector employment. Participants were invited to use the UK’s Treasury tools for Option Appraisal and Business Case Analysis to make this comparison, which includes cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment, and delivery planning drawn up into an overall Impact Assessment.

Participants reported that they had found the tools very helpful because they introduced a higher level of rigorous evaluation of policy proposals. Some of them had previous experience of elements of it but not of the whole process, Clearly, within a training environment we were unable to consider all the complexity of this policy problem. But the intention of the week’s learning was to introduce them to a methodology that could be used in the Kuwait environment and for them to experiment using it.