JIS News

Executive Director of the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), Dr. Charles Douglas, has said that productivity must be at the heart of Jamaica’s survival strategy in order for the country to be increasingly competitive in the global marketplace.
“I would like to say that in unusual times, business as usual is not a workable strategy. We are living in unusual times when all the vibration in the international arena is at its peak and one appropriate response to business surviving in this kind of environment is to focus on productivity,” he said.
Dr. Douglas made the statement at a JIS think Tank session yesterday (October 14) at the agency’s headquarters, where he officially launched the JPC’s upcoming Productivity Conference.
The conference will be held from October 28 to 29 in Kingston and on October 30 in St. Ann under the theme “Going the distance for global competitiveness”.
The Executive Director pointed out that with research showing Jamaica’s productivity levels way below that of its Caribbean counterparts, the components of the conference will seek to address this issue.
“The recent numbers does not suggest that we can afford to relax, what it is saying is that we need to put more emphasis on being more productive,” he asserted while adding that the conference will feature five major components, which can help Jamaica to embark on a path of improved productivity.
“The conference will focus on leadership in productivity improvement and there will be public sector confabs speaking about the possibilities and activities in the public sector as it relates to productivity,” he informed.
“Additionally we will have a productivity session for general practitioners where tools and techniques geared towards productivity improvement will be provided and productivity for practitioners in the tourism sector which will see industry specific productivity tools and techniques provided to managers and supervisors,” he further stated.
In the meantime, President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Danny Roberts, in addressing the issue of the need for Jamaica to improve in the global arena, said more emphasis needs to be placed on total factor productivity.
“One of the things that we have spoken about quite often, is the fact that there has been an over emphasis on labour productivity. And we are saying that there is a total factor productivity that must be measured if we are to understand where we are and to reach where we want to go in terms of Jamaica’s improved global competitiveness,” he outlined.
Dr. Douglas agreed with this sentiment, as he said research indicates that there is a direct link between total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and total factor to overall economic growth.
“The JPC did some research on the contribution of labour, capital and total factor productivity to overall economic growth over a period of approximately 33 years. What we found from that analysis was that in every instance that GDP grew, total factor productivity had a positive contribution to that and every time GDP declined, it reflected a decline in total factor productivity,” he revealed.
“So we can see that there is a positive relationship between GDP growth and total factor productivity,” he continued, adding that the conference will be taking that into high consideration.
“One of the interesting features that the conference will have is the leadership dialogue, which is a major element of the programme. This will comprise representatives from business, the public sector and labour. We will be talking about leadership in a broad context, leadership as a driving force for productivity improvement and that is the essence of the leadership dialogue. This will last for three hours, so high consideration is placed on total factor productivity,” he assured.
Dr. Douglas also pointed out that research done elsewhere has complemented that of the JPC as it relates to total factor productivity and GDP growth.
“What is interesting from work done elsewhere is that, overall, approximately 50 per cent of GDP growth is due to total factor productivity growth. The rest is usually due to capital and labour accumulation. So we can see that if we have an environment or situation where the contribution to GDP growth is dominated by capital and labour, then what it suggest is that sufficient emphasis is not being placed on improving total factor productivity. That is what we observe and this ties in with the research done by the Productivity Centre,” the Executive Director added.
Total factor productivity measures or captures all the things that prove difficult to measure such as the quality of labour, innovativeness, procedures and processes of an organisation.
The productivity conference is the first of its kind to be hosted by the Jamaica Productivity Centre. This year the JPC has joined partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Planning and Heart Trust/NTA. Prime Minister, Bruce Golding will be one of the many speakers addressing the conference.