Published on 29 November, 2013
Warrior through its HR has been able to utilise foreign expertise to train South Sudanese nationals
Awol D'Awol is a man who represents the beginning of a new generation of South Sudanese nationals now moving into corporate management in their homeland.
The long conflict in South Sudan left the country in a desperate need of a skilled workforce to secure its future and generate adequate livelihoods for its population. The starting point has been a rural labour force that is concentrated in low productivity and non-wage employment, with by far the largest share of workers still in subsistence farming and animal husbandry.
Only 13% workers enjoys formal salaried employment, while 19% per cent earn in the informal jobs market. According to a February 2013 Oxfam report, the country has a very high unemployment rate, with only 12% (11% of men and 12%) of the active population officially employed. Moreover, all levels of income, women earn lower wages than their male counterpart. For nearly three-quarters of female headed households, the main source of livelihood is crop farming, followed by wages and salaries for just one in ten such households.
With the wholesale arrival of regional and international investors, multinational corporations, non-governmental organisation and donor organisations, many South Sudanese feel immigrant workers are depriving them of a key dividend of peace after decades of war, to such an extent that earlier this year, the government pushed for unskilled jobs to be reserved for South Sudanese and not migrant workers from other countries.
But all hope is not gone. With the entry of security firms such as Warrior Security- which set up in 2006- a new precedent is emerging of companies that have invested in training and recruiting local guards and other locals into managerial positions. Awol D'Awol can attest to this.
“There is a great deal of South Sudanese that have started working in corporate organisations now than when I first came to Juba,” said Awol, a graduate of the University of Liverpool in the UK who is back to his homeland to contribute to the development of the world's youngest nation.
Upon his return to then Sudan in 2006, Awol, now the Human Resource Manager at Warrior Security, got his first job in Juba as an Executive Assistant at the South Sudan Disarmament,Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission that was tasked with training some members of the SPLA to take on civilian roles.
“I considered that job as a personal mission. I was privileged to work for an initiative that helped provide people with skills and support to enable them to earn an income in civilian life,” he said of his first job.
"There are many procedures that have not been put in place for workers here, such as specificied Labour Law"
In 2009, Awol heard of Warrior Security, as a result of it's visibility in Juba guarding many sites, with customers in government, NGO's and private businesses.
Since then, he has seen the number of South Sudanese working in influential positions increasing. “I guess the reason for this is the start up time it takes and the implementation of government institutions to govern and regulate the private sector, which hires locals,” he said.
As with most African countries, Awol also cites as a reason why most locals are not getting employed the lack of standardised specialised education and skills. He admits the educational level in South Sudanese varies greatly.
“The levels go from as low as illiterate to PhD," said Awol, who concedes he still knows of "very few South Sudanese that occupy positions like mine.”
Awol feels that in order for more South Sudanese to enter influential positions, the locals need to engage in educational and training programs and get adequate field work experience.
Warrior through its human resource department has been able to utilise foreign expertise to train South Sudanese nationals, and Awol has devised mechanism to report on the progress of the employees. Progress is reported in files and the information is collected from the field officers. Warrior employs the strategy of encouraging more open dialogue between the guards and its staff from the top to the bottom, said Awol, with staff's inputs listened to and taken as a key part of improving the quality of service to their clients.
As the Human Resource Manager, the company policy insists on Awol giving their staff key skills and discipline. The company also insists on having a friendly, constructive work environment to reach its maximum operational capacity. The biggest benefit they offer is giving their guards an opportunity for them to become more relevant after the training. Warrior Security through its Human Resource Department also equips staff with Communication and Language skills by teaching them how to communicate in English. Currently, Warrior Security hires staff and guards from South Sudanese only.
"I guess the reason for this is the start up time it takes and the implementation of government institutions to govern and regulate the private sector, which hires locals"
Awol mentions patience and flexibilty as the key components that have helped him tackle his new assignment. “The most important thing for me was that ability to learn new ideas and master the security sector. There was also the need to have an understanding of the South Sudanese culture,” he said. The biggest challenge, he said, is combining a difficult environment to live whilst maintaining the highest possible levels of professionalism.
“South Sudan is a new country. There are many procedures that have not been put in place for workers here, such as specificied Labour Law,” he said.
For a man who says he is fortunate to have been educated, Awol would like to encourage the youth in South Sudanese to keep trying and not to give up on their country. While the country has had a turbulent history of not being an easy place to thrive in, Awol claims its easy to get caught up in the negativity.
“Once you remember that everywhere on earth has its ups and its downs it becomes easier,” he said.
Awol encourages the youth not to give up in the face of disappointments. He also emphasises that his company wants to provide guards with the opportunity to empower themselves and ensure South Sudanese take over the business in the future. There is no doubt about this from a man who says the part of his job that keeps him awake is making sure that all Warrior staff are treated fairly.