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CARICOM – On-the-job training support for key senior officials


Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Technical Action Services Unit (TASU)

Country (ies):

The CARICOM Member States are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago (N.B. The Bahamas, Montserrat and Haiti are currently not part of the CSME)


An Attachment Programme providing on-the-job training support for key senior officials with responsibility for implementation of decisions of CARICOM. A host Member State was identified where administrative systems are more advanced and a 5 day programme was developed in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat to meet a particular capacity need of another Member State.A maximum of five (5) officials nominated by the Member State with the capacity need are afforded the opportunity in real time to observe and participate, allowing for the transfer and subsequent adaptation of best practices.


CARICOM has maintained an active programme of deepening regional integration, in particular through the creation of the Single Market and Economy (CSME). The CSME includes the free movement of goods, services, skilled personnel and capital among the participating countries as well as the right of CARICOM nationals of the participating Member States to establish businesses in any other participating Member State. The full and efficient functioning of the CSME required the creation of systems and procedures to facilitate management and administration at the national level.

Consideration was given to several options and strategies for strengthening national administrative systems. Two social partnership workshops were held in 1998 and 2000 addressing matters such as the interpretation of regional decisions, areas of responsibility and responsible officers, identification of essential support mechanisms for national action and the establishment of networks with Secretariat officials and other key stakeholders.

TASU embarked on an Attachment programme of support from 2003 to 2008 primarily directed to key officials in the Ministries with responsibility for CARICOM Affairs and the Ministries of Trade. The goal of this SSC intervention was to provide an administrative framework for the effective and efficient implementation of the CSME. The purpose was to improve capability in all national level departments to meet responsibilities of implementing regional decisions.

The Attachments were expected to build on and advance the outputs of those partnership workshops by providing on-the-job training experiences for Member State officials. The proposal was that officials will be exposed through practical attachments, to those Ministries, agencies and organisations (both private and public) directly involved in the routine interpretation and operationalising of regional decisions. The expectation was that this type of capacity building would serve to underscore the call for a reorientation of the public service and the regional workforce in general.

Pooled or shared capacity has been an integral part of the history of the Community. Functional Cooperation is one of the main pillars of CARICOM. Since the establishment of the Community, progress has been made particularly in the areas of education and health. As such, there exists to date the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) that provides regionally and internationally recognised secondary school leaving examinations relevant to the needs of the Region. There has also been the establishment of a number of regional bodies and institutions focusing on a range of areas in health to support a coordinated response to challenges faced. The Attachment programme extended this tradition from a pooling of resources to capitalising on comparative advantages where they existed through transfer and sharing.


Though a grouping of 15 sovereign states, there is an established structure of decision making from the highest level of the Conference of Heads of Government to the level of Councils, comprising Ministers with responsibility for a range of issues. The decisions that emanate from these bodies are translated into the specific actions that have to be taken at the Secretariat, National and Regional levels. Member States ultimately have responsibility for implementation of the decisions made. Capacity constraints however, result in delayed implementation or the inability of some Member States to immediately meet their obligations.

The CARICOM Secretariat is the principal administrative organ of the Community. Two of its functions are the mobilisation of resources for the implementation of Community Programmes and the provision of technical assistance to national authorities to facilitate implementation of Community decisions. TASU was developed to serve as a rapid response mechanism, specifically providing capacity development support to Member States with the implementation of decisions of the Community.

With a focus on knowledge building, a range of training activities was developed in collaboration with a designated host Member State. A host Member State was selected where a process or system that supports the implementation of a Community decision was functioning or more advanced. As part of the process of becoming CSME ready, each Member State was required to amend laws and put administrative systems in place that allowed nationals to access benefits provided for under the Treaty. Further, the expectation was that what obtained in one Member State obtained in another with no process more onerous or varying from country to country.

A system of receiving requests from and monitoring of Member States was put in place at the Secretariat to target on a needs basis, capacity development through training and systems improvement. The officials selected were nominated by the Member State and spent five days working in a related Ministry or Unit as well as attending seminars in the host Member State. The number of officials on attachment ranged from 2 to no more than 5 at any given time.

For example, structures such as an Inter-Ministry Consultative Committee (IMCC), a Business and Labour Advisory Committee (BLAC) and a Movement of Skilled Persons Committee were required in each Member State. Some Member States either did not have these structures or needed support in terms of how these structures operated and functioned. Depending on the specific request, an attachment would be planned at a time when the meeting of the relevant body was scheduled in the host Member State. If the issue is capacity building related to giving administrative effect to the Movement of Persons regime the officials selected would come from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration Department and a CSME Focal Point. They would be sent to a Host State where the relevant committees and procedures are more established.

To further illustrate, a key element under the Movement of Persons regime is installing mechanisms for equivalency and accreditation. Mechanisms for accreditation are vital to the functioning of integrated markets since a pivotal element concerning movement of various categories of workers is the issuance of certificates and licences and the mutual recognition of such qualifications, certificates and licences. Some Member States, particularly Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have been able for a number of reasons to build the legal, institutional and administrative infrastructure to certify competencies. The other Member States had established national accreditation infrastructure either fully developed or with limited functioning. These Member States required differing degrees of support to establish these accreditation mechanisms.

In the case of Belize, the membership, including Chairmanship of the Belize National Accreditation Council (NAC) had been identified. However, work had not yet begun to put in place the requisite procedures for initiating the accreditation process. It became apparent that there was need for capacity building and sensitisation of members of the body in order to establish their role as well as a focus for their mission and to prioritise functions. With technical support out of the University Council of Jamaica, a three day training programme was developed and tailored that focused on (i) criteria for accreditation (ii) a framework for institutional quality assurance (iii) a model for the proper functioning of a modern accreditation body. A similar programme was developed and implemented in Guyana.


In the design of the SSC intervention the planned Outcomes were:
  • Improved departmental capability to support the work of the Minister or Director of CARICOM Affairs;
  • Coordinated national approaches to regional decision-making and implementation; and
  • Relevant human resources in place.
The Planned Outputs were initially:
  • Training and development of a cadre of personnel within Ministries of CARICOM affairs and trade; and
  • The improvement of systems in participating Member States.
  • To these were later added:
    • Country-specific programmes of technical support in relation to implementation difficulties for selected countries;
    • CSME Units in all Member States demonstrating administrative 'best practices' in the coordination and management of timely CSME implementation;
    • Functioning CSME support systems in all Member States
    The achievements can be summarised as follows:
    • Compliance with Treaty obligations
    • Compliance with mandates of Councils
    • Systems put in place where they previously did not exist
    • Compliance with Treaty obligations
    • Implementation of 'best fit' / 'best practice' systems and procedures
    Access and Utilisation
    • Increase in attempts to access the benefits provided for under the Treaty
    Capacity Building
    • Transfer of knowledge, adaptation and/or replication of systems and proceduresz
    • Increased knowledge among CSME focal points – familiarity with the procedures/processes that obtain in other Member States
    Establish Networks
    • Development of collaborative networks among CSME units
    Though there was some measure of success particularly related to Member States meeting obligations, a major challenge with training was that when Governments changed, senior officials were sometimes reassigned. This was unavoidable. But the primary purpose was served since the Attachment programme was designed to give immediate capacity support with the CSME coming in to being at that time. The CSME entered into operation from January 2006. There has been continued and wider support to foster more efficient services by Government and statutory bodies in support of the CSME. The process of support using SSC is an ongoing one, continuously utilised by TASU and the wider Secretariat in its support to Member States.

    Aid Effectiveness:

    The tenets of alignment and harmonisation were met under this SSC experience though not initially planned for in the development of the project. There is a process of consultation between the International Development Partners (IDP) and the Secretariat where the 5 year strategies of the IDPs are shared and the priority areas of the Secretariat identified and aligned.

    The SSC programme was implemented under a wider Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded CARICOM Capacity Development Programme that sought to first address institutional strengthening for the Secretariat itself in the management and execution of its responsibilities in the Community. It also sought to provide capacity support to Member States specifically as it relates to the implementation of the CSME.

    Capacity Development:

    Generally, a structure that hinges on sharing and consultation among the officials of Member States of an integration grouping should allow for more tailored, informal solutions to implementation challenges, relevant to national realities. It allows the persons with direct responsibility with giving day to day effect to a process, scope to network and facilitate more immediate solutions. The larger process of public sector and administrative reform is played out at the formal, national level where the driving force is different. There is need for the governments of the Member States to ensure the establishment of common instruments and the joint regulation, operation and efficient regulation of the CSME. This runs parallel to the development of harmonised policies and practices.

    The more direct lessons learnt at the local level were,

    Project Planning/Design
    • Need to more closely assess the maturity or status of Member State systems before conducting training
    Intervention Design
    • Need to conduct more external/indirect stakeholder needs assessment that would better inform design of interventions
    • On the job training is as important as the development of requisite systems
    • Training and transfer of knowledge is a useful 'fast-track' mechanism


    April 2003 – April 2008

    Name of Primary Contact Person:

    Mr. Melbour Phillip

    Title of Primary Contact Person:

    Technical Coordinator