Human Capital

Economic development is recognized as an important ongoing-initiative to help Tribal Governments meet the needs of their people and protect sovereignty.  Tribes are smart to invest in human capital along with economic expansion because investing in people reinforces long term operational stability and improves long and short-term political stability. 

Human capital is the knowledge, habits, personality, and creativity that comprise the ability of an individual or collective of individuals to perform labor.  Labor produces economic value.  Economic value drives businesses to protect a customer base, achieve strategic objectives, and make profit.  Profit provides the cash necessary to pay people for their work, reinvest into growth opportunities, and stabilize operations by building reserves (savings).  Reserves allow an enterprise the resources necessary to defend against competitive pressures, absorb the impact of negative market events, recover from mistakes, and allocate a surplus to the Tribal Government.    

There are many ways of investing into people to boost human capital.  The task may seem difficult to start as many areas of improvement may be identified at the same time.  Often it is good to begin by identifying the pool of people to focus upon then map out their individual profiles.  The following attributes may be helpful to build into a matrix:

  • Highest education degree earned
  • Years in current position
  • Training Certification(s)
  • Years’ experience in a supervisor or management role
  • Future career goals in five years and longer

Once a profile of current organizational accomplishments and future aspirations is constructed the next logical step is to devise a strategy for investing resources to help people improve.  Specific tactics may include but are not limited to:

  • Workforce training on professionalism to those that are getting ready to enter the workforce or have had difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment
  • Customized training for specific departments
  • Individual development plans for career advancement
  • Job fair
  • Leadership training and mentorship

There is no correct way to build a strategy and implement a plan but it is important to obtain feedback from stakeholders within a Tribe so that general goals can be established.  Then the group responsible for achieving organizational goals can prioritize next steps by balancing available cash, other resources needed, and outcomes.  Helping people improve is often difficult to quantify in the short-term but skills and knowledge last a lifetime.  Often progress does not occur as fast as projected or desired but consistent planning and execution to build human capital will produce results in the mid and long-term.