Markets need commitment

In last week’s column, I lamented the lack of formal training on markets. I was referring to market management and staff, not market agents, as they have a fully-fledged skills development programme.

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Yes, there are markets that undertake training of staff for various functions and this is to be commended. However, the majority plod along, year in and year out, without any training. With the exciting developments currently under way for the upliftment of markets, we hope to see noticeable improvements in infrastructure and facilities in the years to come. I know that training is also part of the development plan, but I don’t know what is actually envisaged.

What I do know is that whatever training is planned, it should be comprehensive, focused and ongoing. One-off sessions have limited value. The different tiers of employees, from senior management to general workers, need to be addressed according to their specific requirements. A new era of customer service must be embraced. I don’t have to remind readers of the stream of complaints from the public about service delivery – or lack thereof – in provincial and municipal structures.

See also: Markets training essential

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Market managers will have to create a new culture of customer service among all market employees. This is a major challenge. The mindset of many municipal employees is the first hurdle to overcome. If that cannot be changed, the chances of turning our markets into modern, service-orientated facilities are not good.

Herculean task
The need for training in various forms is undeniable and all that remains is the will to do it. That will only come from the example set by senior management. If they don’t see training as a priority, you can bet your last bunch of carrots their staff under them will not see it either. How all these challenges can be addressed is beyond the scope of this column. It’s a Herculean task, but it must be tackled soon. And the initial focus should be on senior managers.

If management’s thinking can be directed towards a belief in customer service, the message will filter downwards.