Productivity is not a hot topic in Jamaica these days. Even though it is well established that productivity and efficiency are the drivers in all successful economies, all indicators suggest that Jamaica needs to dramatically improve its productivity at all levels.
However, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its Productivity Centre, is hoping to get the country excited, at least for a week, about the subject as Productivity Awareness Week is observed from October 7-11 under the theme 'Productivity: Pathway to Competitiveness and Growth'.
Much money and resources are usually spent on organising and staging conferences and talk fests in commemoration of this or that occasion. But at the end of the day, the looming question on many people's minds continues to be: Is this the best way to communicate the message?
And we must ask the question of the Ministry of Labour: How will this two-day conference help to motivate workers to push their productivity levels upwards? Or, indeed, how will it help employees to understand that with real wages falling as sharply as they have done in the past few years, workers are looking for incentives and better working conditions.
The Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) states that the conference is "aimed at providing learning opportunities and valuable information on productivity for employees at all levels in private- and public-sector organisations".
It added that the two-day parley will also address research findings from a productivity study, conducted by the JPC, which indicate that Jamaica's productivity levels must improve substantially if the country is to compete successfully in the global marketplace.
No need for expensive conference
With due respect to the organisers of this conference, we really don't need a forum of a few staged at an expensive venue to deliver this message. The need to substantially increase output per hour for our country's survival must be widely disseminated across the entire country.
This is the fifth staging of National Productivity Awareness Week and we would love for the ministry to give an account of its stewardship and point to what has been achieved through its efforts. The JPC, which has a mandate to promote and facilitate productivity enhancement at the national, sectoral, industry and enterprise levels, ought to start a new, realistic conversation with employers and employees about exactly what needs to be done to reverse this dire situation.
Even with all the additional activities planned for Productivity Awareness Week, precious little buoyancy of output can be achieved if the Government does not unveil a credible plan for growth and jobs. We submit that no economic recovery can be achieved in this climate
How is the manufacturing sector taking advantage of the growing demand for Jamaican products overseas? This demand is what will help to create jobs as local companies expand to fill the demand. Our manufacturing has been squeezed out of the CARICOM market and, even with a weak dollar, businesses face enormous competition from global players.
Let's make Productivity Awareness Week more meaningful by devising new policies to tackle the myriad problems that have resulted in the stagnation of our productive sector. We do not need another talk fest.
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