Career development strategies and their influence on productivity levels among extension officers in the ministry of agriculture in Kenya

According to Barling and Cooper (2008), productivity refers to the quantity of outputs obtained from a given level of inputs, which is influenced by the variety of skills, characteristics and attitudes, including formal training and qualifications, motivation levels, initiative, team skills, attention to detail, judgment, multi-task abilities, communication skills, general attitudes and work ethos. Several measures can be taken to increase employee productivity, among them, provision of adequate breaks for the employees to recuperate and get more focused on the job, review of employee needs on a regular basis, profit sharing, effective rewards and recognition, a good work environment and employee career development strategies. Employees joining the ministry of agriculture as extension officers go through different stages in their career progression. After employment, an officer is expected to work for a period of not less than three years, after which he is qualified to apply for in-service training in any of the recognized government training institutions (Government of Kenya, 2004). On graduation, the officer is promoted to the next job group, in which he must serve for a given period of time (typically three years), before he can, again, qualify for promotion to the next job group (Government of Kenya, 2004). Unfortunately, this is the ideal situation, which is, rarely followed. The reality of the matter is that many officers are left disillusioned by the mostly dysfunctional career development strategy within the Ministry of Agriculture and the lack of competitiveness in the whole strategy. Consequently, a poor career development strategy can be cited as one of the likely factors negatively influencing productivity among extension officers in the Ministry of Agriculture. The purpose of this study was to determine how career development strategies have influenced productivity levels among extension officers working with the ministry of Agriculture in Kilifi district in the Kenyan coast province. This was a case study which sought to identify the effects of a career development strategy on employee productivity, with a special focus on extension officers in the Ministry of Agriculture, which was carried out with an aim of opening doors for further research on the same and recommend strategies for addressing the problems to ensure that the country becomes (once again) self sufficient in food production. At the time of the study, there were a total of 45 extension officers in Kilifi District. Due to the small number of officers, a census was done, where all the officers were given questionnaires and involved in a focus group discussion for triangulation purposes. This is because it was only through a census that more comprehensive and accurate information could be gotten. The data collected was analyzed for any causal-effect relationships, correlations and variances, by use of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and the results presented in pie charts and tables to give a picture of the research findings at a glance. The findings on how career development strategies influence extension officers’ productivity in the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the employees’ academic attainment influenced their levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, with officers with Masters’ degree exhibiting the highest level of dissatisfaction while those with Diplomas showing the least level of dissatisfaction.

Peter Mutua Mutia and DamarySikalieh
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