Supporting Your Local Staff with Their Next Challenge
“Today was a really good day.” Those were my exact thoughts while I left the MEDA office on a sunny Wednesday in September after we had finished an afternoon-long training on interview skills facilitated by a team of local trainers from EQWiP Hub Ghana (Educational Quality Work Improvement Program). The Tamale EQWiP Hub is one of 18 dynamic youth innovation spaces located around the world. These spaces connect youth – where they are – with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and to innovate entrepreneurial ideas.
The Tamale EQWiP Hub team is made up of both local Ghanaian full-time staff and Canadian volunteers who work together to provide essentials skills training and preparation for work opportunities. EQWiP Hub Ghana is a fellow Global Affairs Canada-funded organization, which makes it an even more serendipitous partnership.
The GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) program has just wrapped up after seven long years of hard work focusing on providing the right tools necessary for women farmers in the Upper West Region of Ghana to farm soybeans; it’s also just as important to focus on improving the skills of our staff in the administrative and program offices in Tamale and Wa. The local MEDA staff of 31 men and women are now on the job search, and it’s important to assist them on how to best prepare for their next professional steps. For the staff in the Wa office, their time with GROW will end in December 2018 and the administrative Tamale office will remain working until March 2019, writing the Final Report to submit to Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
The Interview Skills training was initially scheduled for 9am; however after our office cook reminded me that he wouldn’t be able to attend if he was busy preparing everyone’s lunch for noontime. We then rescheduled the workshop to start after lunch until 3pm. This detail was a welcome reminder that all of the staff schedules and roles are important, and we need to be mindful of each staff member’s vital contribution to the team. On this particular Wednesday, nine staff members came together in our conference area after lunch to meet with: Tindana Kubilla, an EQWiP Hub Training Coordinator, Fayudatu Takubu, an EQWiP Hub Tamale Hub Training Facilitator along with Alysha Chagani, the Youth Livelihood Advisor. The EQWiP facilitators began by collecting staff expectations for the training. This interactive brainstorming allowed the staff to become comfortable with the training ahead. Afterwards a video was played of an interview gone bad, following a group discussion about what they noticed about interview structure and what the candidate in the film did wrong and right.
Next, we split up into two smaller groups to discuss what might we be asked in a real interview, and shared tips for a successful interview. Then we reconvened to share what our groups had brainstormed. After reviewing more interview skill content and tips, the afternoon concluded with 20-minute mock interviews for each of the staff members. Constructive feedback from the EQWiP panel was offered as well as strengths and areas for improvement highlighted. This part of the training seemed to be the most valuable to the MEDA staff. No matter how senior the staff member, each colleague walked away having learned something new and feeling more confident in their interviewing skills.
The MEDA Staff appreciated the attention to their strengths and weaknesses on feedback forms they received after the mock interviews. Some verbal feedback I received about the training was:
- “The training yesterday was awesome!”
- “I learned a lot”
- “It was quite helpful and interesting.”
- "Could we do another training on CV and cover letter writing?"
Since the training has been offered to both the Tamale and Wa office we’ve had one intern offered a leadership fellowship opportunity and two staff members continue on to their next work opportunity. Working in development, you don’t always get to see the outcomes and results of activities you’re working on. At times you may not even see the long-lasting benefit to the client. Maintaining and improving the skills and knowledge of the local administrative staff is another aspect of a development project that helps fight poverty and underemployment throughout the project. Being able to hear and see the positive attitudes of our own staff was really rewarding for me and I hope to do more of this type of work in the future.