National Human Resource Development in Asian States

Subject: Workforce
Pages: 20
Words: 5481
Reading time:
20 min
Study level: PhD


Human Resource Development (HRD) has gained considerable significance amongst different stakeholders since the 1980s. Its prominence is evidenced by the high rate at which stakeholders both at the national and international levels are integrating the practice in the quest to improve the quality of labour force. Greg and Swanson (2008) affirm that quality is a function of the workforces’ higher education, health of the population, and the training programmes adopted. One of the factors that have prompted the growth of HRD is its impact on organisations and countries’ economic performance (Greg & Swanson, 2008). Additionally, the relevance of HRD has also been stimulated by other factors such as the existence of high levels of unemployment, national budget deficits, and growth in the level of international trade, differences in levels of education across countries, and the emergence of new technologies. Hasler, Thopmson, and Schuler (2006) assert that the ability of a country to sustain future development irrespective of its status such as the post-industrialised, fully industrialised, newly industrialised, or in the early stages of industrialisation depends on a portfolio of its economic, social, political, and technological objectives.

In a bid to implement the objectives successfully, efficient utilisation of human capital is paramount. Previously, the effectiveness with which a country exploited its labour force was measured based on technological innovation and wealth creation. However, the contemporary society demands countries to be concerned with the adaptability of their labour force to macro-environmental. Succeeding in the 21st century requires countries to be proactive in positioning themselves as learning entities. Additionally, they must improve their capacity to act on new knowledge (Alagaraja & Wang, 2012). Therefore, it is imperative for economies to focus on improving their effectiveness in improving their workforce by focusing on creating a pool of experienced workforce in order to enhance their competitive superiority.

In an effort to achieve this goal, most countries have improved their human resource planning beyond human capital investment and manpower planning and incorporated the concept of National Human Resource Development [NHRD] (Cho & McLean, 2004). Hasler et al. (2006) define NHRD as a coordinated and planned process adopted by a country in an effort to foster the development of human resources. Most countries have appreciated NHRD as a policy priority. Subsequently, different countries have formulated national models that are used in developing talent within their economies. Moreover, the countries have formulated policies that align with the cultural, economic, social, and educational systems (Cho & McLean, 2004).

However, Lee (2004) asserts that the “relative roles and the overall importance of NHRD depends on individual country-specific circumstances particularly the economic structure” (p. 382). This paper evaluates how developing countries can build a NHRD model and the significance of customising the HRD to a specific country context. Additionally, the paper evaluates the challenges that developing countries face in implementing the national HRD.

Literature review

Developing and optimal utilisation of human capital is critical in enhancing an economy’s political and social future progress. Alagaraja and Wang (2012) assert that the “policy goal of the NHRD program is to establish a lifelong job capacity development system for an individual to cope with the changing job environments” (p. 414). Lee (2004) emphasises that many countries have changed their perception with reference to primary resources. Thus, most economies perceive human capital as the primary resource. Examples of countries that have appreciated extensively the importance of human capital include Korea and Japan. Despite the view that these countries do not have enormous natural resources as opposed to other economies, Japan and Korea have recorded remarkable economic growth over the past few decades due to their emphasis on developing human capital (Lee, 2004). Furthermore, HRD is fundamental in enhancing sustainable development, hence alleviating social challenges such as poverty, unemployment, violence, and illiteracy amongst other socio-economic challenges (Lee, 2004).

NHRD models

Different economies around the globe have invested significantly in developing a NHRD, as evidenced by the establishment diverse HRD programs and policies. The concept of HRD is based on diverse dimensions, which include the socio-cultural, economic, and political dimensions. Furthermore, Paprock (2008) asserts that education constitutes the crux of HRD. This section evaluates some of the countries that have implemented a NHRD model. Some of the models evaluated include the transitional model, small nation model, government-initiated model, centralised, and the decentralised/free market model. The section also illustrates how the models have been applied by various countries.

Transitional model

According to Lee (2004), this model is mainly applied by economies that are undergoing transition. Therefore, a tripartite approach is adopted in formulating the NHRD program. In this case, the views of different stakeholders, viz. the employers, the government, and the employees’ unions are taken into consideration. Adopting a tripartite approach promotes the likelihood of reaching a consensus regarding the NHRD program. Thus, one of the core aspects under the transitional NHRD model is coordination. Moreover, the transitional model adopts a multi-departmental approach in the process of implementing the various HRD policies. This goal can be achieved by delegating the process of implementing the different HRD policies to specific ministries (Lee, 2004).

One of the major hindrances in the implementation of this model entails the existence of potential conflict and duplication of NHRD activities between the various government departments or agencies. Subsequently, it is imperative for governments to ensure a high level of coordination in the model implementation process.

Government-initiated model

This model is mainly adopted in an effort to achieve a high level of standardisation amongst different regions. The UK has extensively applied this model in its quest to exert significant influence over its different regions. However, this model is based on a consultative approach on various economic and human resource aspects. The competence level of the labour force is controlled by a specific government agency. For example, the Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks and the National Occupational Standards are charged with the responsibility of fostering competency levels in the UK. Additionally, the Sector Skills Councils have an oversight role over the regulatory agencies. The council is “comprised of different representatives such as community groups, learning providers and employers who are charged with the responsibility of satisfying the labour market needs” (Lynham & Cunningham, 2004, p. 320). Other countries that have adopted this model include South Africa and Australia. This model has enabled these economies to standardise the level of competence amongst their workforce.

Decentralised/free market model

Under this model, the national HRD efforts are based on the competitive market forces. Furthermore, most education and training efforts are undertaken by the private sector. Lee (2004) argues that the free market model is individualistic in nature as the citizens have a responsibility to enhance their personal growth and development. Canada is one of the renowned economies that have adopted this model.

Small nation model

Small countries mainly adopt diverse approaches in implementing their NHRD policies. However, the countries collaborate with each other in order to succeed in exploiting the available resources. The majority of small countries in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands have adopted this model. However, Bartlett and Rodgers (2004) assert that the small-nation model is challenging to implement due to the existence of competition between the member states.

Centralised model

This model emphasises the importance of governments investing in education and training. This model is implemented by adopting a top-down approach in improving the country’s education levels. Subsequently, the central government in collaboration with the local government invest in extensive education and training programs. Yang, Zhang, and Zhang (2004) affirm that the central government is charged with the responsibility of planning, implementing, and evaluating the HRD programs and policies. Under this model, the implementation of the NHRD is purely the responsibility of the government (Greg, 2008).

Another major characteristic of the centralised model is that it advocates collectivism, as illustrated by is focus on moral and social aspects. Furthermore, the national HRD policies are mainly short term, for example, 5-year plan (Yang et al., 2004).

Application of NHRD by different countries

Republic of Korea

The Korean government has adopted a transitional model in its NHRD. In 2002, the Korean government enacted the Basic Act for HRD, which states that the government must develop a model that outlines how it intends to foster the human capital every 5 years. According to the master plan, the various central government agencies in Korea have a responsibility to develop their annual plans. The plans should clearly outline the scope of work and the resources required. Moreover, the plan also highlights the policy-driving subject, the investment plans, how finance will be secured, and the method to be employed in enhancing resource mobilisation.

The Korean government undertakes extensive study in order to determine whether the NHRD plan has been implemented to the letter. Additionally, the government has formulated a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation processes. The monitoring process aids in assessing the HRD activities undertaken. Conversely, the evaluation process constitutes a fundamental element in the government’s effort to undertake corrective measures (Cho & McLean, 2004).


The Japanese government has integrated the centralised model in its NHRD policy. This model entails integrating a top-down approach in improving the quality of labour force through education and training. One of the distinct characteristics of this model is its emphasis on the social and moral dimensions. Subsequently, the government takes an active role in ensuring that the program contributes to economic development.

The need for a NHRD program in Japan emerged during the early stages of the 21st century. The motivation towards developing the NHRD program was spurred by the need to undertake reforms on the education sector. For example, the Japanese government formulated a new education plan in 2001 and a human resource strategy vision in 2002. The Japanese NHRD program emphasises the importance of nurturing a high level of cooperation in reforming the education sector, which illustrates the Japanese government’s commitment to eliminating bureaucratic control. Furthermore, reforms within the education sector are also aimed at improving the Japanese competitiveness in the global labour market rather than complying with the Western education systems (Cho & McLean, 2004).

The 2001 Education Reform Plan in Japan comprises the foundation of the country’s NHRD program. The program is specifically designed to promote the development of knowledge especially amongst the youth. One of the areas that the Japanese government focuses on entails science and technology. Other plans that the NHRD program has integrated include community volunteer work plans, student exchange programs, and on-the-job career advancement programs. On the other hand, the 2002 Human Resource Strategy Vision is focused on achieving a number of skills, which include improving human relations, study skills, and developing versatile abilities amongst the citizens. Subsequently, the Japanese government is committed to improving the capacity of its citizens to deal with the demands of the new era.

In its commitment to implement the reform plans in the education sector successfully, the government formulated a number of legislation, which focused on a number of areas as illustrated below.

  1. Consolidation of national universities and conversion/abolition of short-period colleges
  2. National universities were accorded power to make autonomous decisions regarding staff unions
  3. The development of an advanced placement system, which is applicable to students with exemplary academic performance at the graduate schools, high schools, and colleges
  4. Approval of experiential activities, for example, participating in social activities, educational activities, and volunteering activities
  5. Development of a Children’s dream fund

Unlike Korea, the Japanese government has not established an extensive monitoring and evaluation system to assess its HRD policy. On the contrary, each government ministry is authorised to assess the effectiveness of its HRD policy implementation. Subsequently, the respective ministries undertake a survey of their HRD program after a specific duration such as 3 years. However, the Japanese government has clearly outlined its policy priorities, outcomes, and objectives, which have considerably improved the citizens’ level of understanding on the NHRD plan. Due to its commitment in implementing education as one of the national HRD priorities, Japan has improved the literacy level of its workforce by 99%. Therefore, literacy is not a problem in Japan (Cho & McLean, 2004).


Singapore has improved its commitment to developing human capital. The country is ranked third on the Global Innovation Index [GII], which measures a country’s commitment to innovation (Lee, 2004). Subsequently, the country is ranked amongst the Asian tigers due to its proactive commitment to implementing effective policy initiatives. Singapore has adopted a mixture of government-initiated and transitional model in its NHRD program. This goal has been achieved by incorporating a network of government and non-government agencies. Therefore, the Singaporean government has been in a position to establish a tripartite approach.

This model has remarkably improved Singapore’s ability to implement effective training and educational systems. Therefore, one of the country’s core NHRD initiatives has emphasised on leveraging on human capital by developing talent. The country has formulated an end-to-end innovation system, which combines various organisations such as research institutions (Alagaraja & Wang, 2012). Furthermore, the Singaporean government has ensured a high level of collaboration between academic and business institutions in fostering its national HRD policy.

Singapore’s commitment to the adoption of an industrial policy has led to a considerable improvement in its labour force skills. Additionally, the government has been in a position to “institute a tight control of the skills level through the established training and education systems” (Cseh & Manikoth, 2013, p. 10). Due to its effective coordination on the country’s demand and supply for skills, Singapore has been in a position to enhance its growth rate. The government-initiated model has also enabled Singapore to transform its economy from being investment-driven economy to innovation-driven economy.

Paprock (2008) asserts that Singapore has integrated an extensive mosaic-like integrated strategy. The process of implementing the strategy is monitored by various government agencies such as the Workforce Development Agency and the Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board. One of the unique characteristics of the Singapore’s NHRD policy is that it focuses on specific industries. One of the areas that Singapore has focused on entails scientific research. In an effort to improve the quality of its labour force, Singapore has been committed to scouting for best talents from different parts of the world. This move has played a fundamental role in establishing a favourable environment for creative thinking. The government has also invested a substantial amount of money in inviting graduate students in various fields such as life sciences to return to Singapore (Rao, 2004).


India is the “second largest country in the world with reference to population size” (McLean & McLean, 2001, p. 318). This aspect underscores the potential of the country to develop competitive superiority in exploiting its human capital. The country has integrated the ‘hollyworld’ model in its NHR in an effort to alter its economy into an innovation epicentre. The country’s NHRD model is based on its culture. The country is committed to nurturing a culture of cool community in an effort to attract and retain talent. The country has also been focused on attracting its citizens in other countries to invest in India.

In line with its commitment to encourage the contribution of the Diaspora community to the country’s NHRD policy, India continuously increases its budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Overseas Indians. Additionally, the country provides citizens with an opportunity for dual citizenship. The ‘hollyworld’ model has remarkably contributed towards the rate of repatriation amongst Indians. Subsequently, the country’s economy has undergone remarkable economic growth, as evidenced by the success of most business start-ups in Bangalore. However, Lee (2004) asserts that India’s “NHRD policies have been limited to educational and culture due to the challenges the country faces as a result of complexities associated with multi-dimensionality of the country” (p. 335).


China is “ranked as a leader amongst the lower-middle income economies and 29th in the GII ranking” (Cseh & Manikoth, 2013, p. 11). The country has undergone considerable economic, political, and social evolution over the past few decades. For example, the country has transformed its economy from being a rural agriculturalist to a market-driven economy. The concept of HRD was first conceived in 1978 after the adoption of the open-door policy. However, the Chinese government recognised that its success in implementing the economic reforms depended on the quality of its workforce. Despite its commitment towards developing a national HRD, China has experienced remarkable differences due to the existence of divergent ideologies, which include Confucianism, capitalism, and socialism. The socialist ideology advocates the adoption of a national HRD due to its emphasis on human capital, as the core component in the success of a bureaucratic system.

In an effort to achieve this goal, the Chinese government has adopted a brute force or the centralised model. Lee (2004) defines the “brute force’ models as ‘an approach in which companies impose structures and practices of the home country to the employees” (p. 344). The government NHRD model is based on the assumption that if a substantial number of citizens adopt innovative ideas, there is a high probability of yielding positive results. Thus, China has increased its investment in institutions of higher learning over the past few decades. Its motive to invest in higher education has been stimulated by the need to develop specialists in specific areas especially in science and technology.

The country is well known for urging its students who opt to study overseas to consider the possibility of going back to the country after studies in a bid to help the country develop in different aspects by providing skilled labour force. A study conducted in 2005 by the Chinese Bureau of Statistics indicated that the majority of Chinese students return to China after completing their studies abroad. The report indicated that 34,987 students returned to China in 2005 compared to 9,121 in 2000 (Cseh & Manikoth, 2013, p. 12). One of the industries that have extensively adopted the ‘brute force’ models is the automobile industry (McLean & McLean, 2001).

The United States

Unlike the Asian economies, the US is yet to acknowledge the significance of a NHRD. However, some scholars argue that the country’s enactment of the American Competitive Act in the 21st century in 2000 underscores a premise for the country’s commitment towards adopting a NHRD policy. Furthermore, the incorporation of the Workforce Investment Boards [WIBs] highlights the country’s commitment towards NHRD initiatives. In view of the intense competition, the Obama administration has advocated the need for the US to out-innovate, out-build, and out-educate its citizens in order to sustain the country’s global competitiveness. Moreover, the American government has also established an Advanced Manufacturing Partnership [AMP]. The AMP program is focused on improving collaboration amongst the federal government, universities and industries (Paprock, 2008).

In its quest to improve the competitiveness of its labour force, the US has invested a significant amount of resources in studying in innovation models of different countries. Subsequently, the US has been in a position to develop a system integration model, which is a hybrid model. The model focuses on various elements such as cultural diversity, improvement of educational institutions, and improving the country’s infrastructure. Furthermore, the country has integrated the concepts of health care and green energy in its national HRD policy. It is projected that the US could succeed in repositioning itself as a global leader with reference to innovation due to its rich mix of resources, effective education systems, well-established institutions, and familial connections (Paprock, 2008).

NHRD efforts at the regional and international levels

As a policy, NHRD forms the foundation upon which different nations establish their human resource development principles. The main motive amongst economies in formulating the NHRD is to enhance their ability to address the issues that affect their long-term economic performance. According to Lee (2004), NHRD does not only focus on improving the employability quality of a country’s labour force, but also it integrates various cultural and society aspects such as safety, health, culture, and the community, which significantly influences the effectiveness of a national HRD. Furthermore, NHRD also involves investing in continuous study of other countries’ models in order to determine the most effective method of improving their NHRD policies (Cho & McLean, 2004).

NHRD has gained remarkable significance over the past decades due to its ability to improve a country’s global competitiveness. The above analysis illustrates the efforts by individual countries to tailor their NHRD to their needs. Cho and McLean (2004) assert that as “countries formulate national HRD policies, a debate inevitably ensues to diagnose what is wrong with the country’s education systems , what is wrong with its economic social, cultural, and human resource development systems, and what should be done” (p. 386). However, the available literature indicates that there have been varied efforts to integrate HRD policies at a regional level. The European Union has in the past invested in a program aimed at promoting a single structure of NHRD amongst the member states. The EU member states through the European Centre for Development of Vocational Training [CEDFOP] invested in developing occupational skills profiles across the European Union. Furthermore, the concept of NHRD has also been advocated at an international level by various bodies such as the 2004 International Labour Organisation [ILO] recommendation and the 2013 UN Secretary-General’s report on HRD. These two bodies advocated the integration of NHRD to various aspects such as information communication technologies, science, engineering, and sustainable development (Cho & McLean, 2004).

One of the classic examples of regional application of the NHRD is illustrated by the Pacific Island and Caribbean countries. Over 190 members of the UN have adopted the small-nation model, which advocates a high cooperation amongst different countries.

Country specific NHRD

The majority of the national HRD programs adopted at the regional and international levels focus on improving a specific aspect of human resource such as the level of skills. In such situations, the NHRD is specifically designed to foster improvement of a country’s workforce and economic development. Some of the common examples of NHRD at the regional relate to the implementation of labour-market programs such as vocational education and training. However, implementing such a program in low-income countries/developing countries presents a major challenge due to lack of well-established infrastructure. Lee (2004) argues that implementation of HRD at a national level in the developing economies faces a myriad of challenges due to the transitioning nature of the society. Consequently, it is imperative for countries to ensure that the HRD policy addresses the issues faced at the national context. This move will improve the effectiveness with which the NHRD addresses the unique challenges faced at the national level such as safety, health, and culture. Lee (2004) affirms that the “concept of national development policy in India through the Ministry of HRD has been limited to education and culture, and the broader national development policy system has not been integrated due to the country’s complexity and multidimensionality” (p. 289). Therefore, India has not been in a position to adopt the transitional model successfully.

Customisation of the NHRD will improve the effectiveness with which the country addresses the economic, political, cultural, and historical realities. In order to succeed in developing the NHRD, developing countries should take into consideration a number of aspects such as the supply conditions, demand conditions, and the existence of supporting systems (Alagaraja & Wang, 2012). These elements vary across different economies. For example, the NHRD policies in St. Lucia have focused on socio-economic development aspects such as employment creation, poverty reduction, and enhancing the country’s competitiveness (Lynham & Cunningham, 2004).

The literature review above illustrates significant disparity with reference to NHRD between the developed economies [Japan and Korea] and the developing countries; hence, priorities in the formulation of NHRD policy differ remarkably. Therefore, adopting a single structure of national HRD might not work in all countries. For example, the developed countries such as Japan no longer focus on education as one of the priorities in the NHRD. On the contrary, the level of education in the developing countries requires remarkable improvement.

In order to succeed in enhancing their long-term economic growth, developing countries should adapt their HRD policy, programs, and approaches to a specific country context. The developing countries should focus on the influencing factors such as the education system, the government structures, and business utilisation (Paprock, 2008). The government structures refer to the intended growth path adopt by respective countries. For example, Kazakhstan and Kenya have formulated comprehensive development strategies, viz. Kazakhstan 2030 and Vision 2030. These plans have focused on a number of core areas, which include economic growth, social, and political stability, health, education, and national security. These countries have ensured that the NHRD policies, programs, and approaches align optimally with the country’s needs. For example, Kazakhstan 2030 underscores the importance of developing the level of education in the country in order to improve the effectiveness of its human capital. In an effort to succeed in improving the country’s education system, Kazakhstan is in the process of implementing a reform program commonly referred to as the Education Conception 2005-2015. The program is focused on ensuring that the country’s education system is perfectly aligned with the country’s long-term development plan.

Influence of culture on national HRD

Cho and McLean (2004) asserts that the “increasing drive to standardise managerial practices across national boundaries has renewed interest in examining the degree to which culture impacts on the effectiveness of such practices” (p. 388). The success with which a single structure of NHRD is implemented depends on the prevailing cultural differences. Different countries are characterised by different cultural characteristics as illustrated by the Hofstede cultural analysis model. According to Cho and McLean (2004), culture is a complex concept that not only affects effective practices, but also the theories formulated and adopted. Cho and McLean (2004) assert that culture distinguishes different countries. Additionally, the values upheld in a particular culture impacts the managerial ideology adopted, and hence the human resource practice adopted. Organisations’ success in implementing HRD depends on the extent to which it aligns with the national culture.

Challenges of developing a national HRD model in developing countries

Despite the commitment amongst developing economies to formulate a national HRD, most economies experience significant challenges. Some of the major challenges encountered by the developing economies are illustrated herein.

Existence of an unpredictable and imperfect labour market

Most developing economies have trouble in determining their future skills and competency needs, which makes the labour market to be unbalanced. Students who “succeeded in preparing for careers that were considered ‘hot’ experience a challenge within a period of 5 years due to an increase in supply within their specific field” (Paprock, 2008, p. 17). Due to the high rate of economic development, the developing countries experienced continuous shifts in labour demand, which cannot be met by the available labour supply. Consequently, the developing countries experience a major challenge in formulating effective national NHRD that might enhance attainment of long-term competitiveness (Lee, 2004).

The ability to address the unpredictable and imperfect labour market conditions through the formulation of a national HRD policy has been hindered by poor planning and the implementation on basic components such as health, socio-cultural aspects, and education. Despite the view that most developing economies have adopted the Millennium Development Goals, they have not been in a position to implement these strategies successfully due to poor planning.

Mobility of labour

The developing economies have invested significantly in improving their education system. Subsequently, they are in a position to produce qualified human resources. However, the developing economies are characterised with a relatively low standards of living (Lee, 2004). Subsequently, these economies suffer from brain drain. The high rate of labour mobility or ‘brain drain’ has been increased by the adoption of special strategies by developed economies to attract the best talent. For example, Germany integrated the Green card system in an effort to attract IT specialists. Furthermore, the some of the developed economies have been in a position to foster re-migration of talent by offering their experts in different countries attractive remigration facilities such as better salaries. Thus, the developed economies are in a position to foster their economic growth by establishing a national HRD. On the contrary, the high rate of brain drain in the developing economies limits their ability to establish a national HRD.

The existence of monopolistic tendencies

Some of the developing economies have adopted monopolistic approaches within the education sector. For example, “Kyrgyzstan reduced the number of institutions of higher learning that receive financial subsidy from the government from 114 to 8 and some of the courses offered in the institutions of higher learning are not beneficial to the country’s economy” (Paprock, 2008, p. 19). An example such courses include the American Studies programs, which do not correlate with the current labour market demands. Despite the high rate of economic growth being experienced in some of the developing economies such as China, the countries’ education systems have not responded to the prevailing market demands adequately. One of the factors that have led to this situation entails minimal investment in training and developing the country’s labour force.

Social challenges

One of the key characteristics of the developing economies includes a high population growth rate. Examples of these countries include India and China. The explosive rate of population growth presents a major problem in the development of a national HRD. Due the size of their population, the developing economies are characterised by a large, but unskilled or illiterate human resources. Therefore, in order to succeed in developing and implementing a national HRD, these countries are required to invest a substantial amount of money in educating and training their labour force. In addition to the existence of “disparity in the levels of education, some of these economies such as India are faced with a challenge emanating from the prevailing cultural diversity [religious orientations, linguistics, and ethnic]” (Paprock, 2008, p. 21). India has 18 different official languages, which highlights the extent of diversity. Similarly, South Africa has experienced significant challenges in its effort to develop a national HRD by establishing balancing the existing historical racial imbalances (McLean & McLean, 2001).

Despite the view that some of the countries have succeed in improving basic literacy by investing in basic, primary, and secondary education, the country is characterised with a high level of imbalance with reference to access of educational opportunities (Rao, 2004). Implementation of a national HRD is also hindered by existence of high levels of poverty and lack of basic infrastructure. In addition to the above challenges, the developing economies experience diverse social problems that hinder the formulation and implementation of a national HRD policy.

Some of these problems include the prevalence of HIV/Aids pandemic in some countries such as South Africa, India, and Kenya. These economies invest a substantial amount of financial resources in fighting such social problems, which diminishes the budgetary allocation that would have enhanced the development and implementation of a national HRD policy. Furthermore, the implementation of a national HRD is hindered by the high rate of absenteeism and loss of productive workforce due to HIV/AIDs related deaths. In order to implement the national HRD successfully, the developing companies must appreciate the existence of these issues (Hasler et al., 2006).


Developing optimal human capital constitutes an essential component in promoting a country’s long-term competitiveness. The quality of human capital influences an economy’s ability to implement national development strategies. Most economies that are currently ranked as developed have invested substantially in improving their human capital by implementing a national HRD policy. The national HRD does not only focus on the skills and knowledge of the labour force, but also on other social, cultural, health, and safety aspects. Examples of such countries include Japan, the US, and the UK. Currently, the developed economies have shifted their focus of the NHRD policy on basic aspects such as education and they are committed to enhancing the innovativeness of their workforce.

The recognition on the role of NHRD in fostering economic growth and competitiveness has motivated different developing economies such as Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, and Kenya to adopt a radical approach towards implementing a national HRD, as illustrated by the formulation of long-term development strategies. Different international bodies such as the UN and regional integration blocs such as the European Union have previously advocated the adoption of a single structure NHRD program in different countries. However, developing countries are characterised with unique challenges. Some of the challenges include poor infrastructure such as the education system to support the implementation of a single structure NHRD.

The developing countries are characterised with diverse government systems, national culture, unpredictable and imperfect labour market, high rate of labour mobility, and the existence of monopolistic tendencies. Furthermore, the developing economies are characterised by varying social issues such as high levels of poverty. Therefore, it is imperative for countries to customize their national HRD policies, programs, and approaches. This aspect will improve the countries’ ability to succeed in coordinating the NHRD planning and implementation processes.


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