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State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, says the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), has been actively spearheading efforts by the administration to increase productivity levels within the country’s workforce.
Speaking at the weekly meeting of the North St. Andrew Kiwanis Club, at the Police Officers’ Club, Hope Road, St. Andrew, on June 10, Mr. Gallimore said the Centre, which falls under the Ministry, has been pursuing initiatives with entities in the private and public sectors, to address Jamaica’s low productivity, which is lagging behind the country’s main trading and regional partners.
Stressing the corelation between productivity, Jamaica’s competitive edge in the global marketplace, and the standard of living, the State Minister pointed out that the JPC has been pivotal in assisting to guide efforts by private and public sector stakeholders to achieve real productivity growth.
The JPC, which was established in 2003, is a tripartite body comprising representatives of the Government, private sector and trade unions. Its Advisory Board is chaired by business executive, Joseph A. Matalon.
“The (overall) objective is to spearhead a productivity movement in our country that is long overdue. The tripartite members share the belief that growth in productivity will be best achieved through an alliance and co-operation between Government, which controls policy, and employers and workers,” he explained.
Mr. Gallimore said that last year, the JPC developed a strategic plan, which focuses on five critical objectives. These include: inculcating a culture of national productivity among the workforce, so as to maximise on outputs; ensuring implementation of best practices in private and public sector entities; providing timely, accurate and reliable data on, and advice regarding workforce productivity; building productivity-driven private and public sector organisations; and enhancing organisational value through interventions and consultations.
The State Minister informed that the administration, cognizant of the JPC’s key role in economic growth, doubled the organisation’s budget in 2007. This, he pointed out, resulted in the cadre of technical experts increasing from two to nine; and support staff moving from four to five.
Additionally, Mr. Gallimore said the Advisory Board Chairman, and his deputy, former Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) President, Anthony Hyde, were instrumental in assembling a prominent panel of Directors, to guide the JPC’s mandate.
“They have been able to get representatives from the trade unions, from the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), from academia, from the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Ministry, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. people who have vast knowledge and experience,” he argued.
Mr. Gallimore informed that the JPC, under the leadership of Executive Director, Dr. Charles Douglas, is currently focusing on three key areas of undertaking – the provision of technical and advisory services to private and public sector organisations, through the Technical Assistance Services Unit; research and analysis measurement services and policy advice, through the Research Unit; and public education, through the Communications Unit.
He disclosed that since 2009, the JPC has extended assistance to 27 organisations, – 22 private sector entities, and five public sector bodies. The intervention has resulted in one of the private sector entities, which he described as “one of the largest in Jamaica,” saving US$2.5 million ($220 million) per annum. Additionally, the JPC’s planning and implementation of the Ministry’s energy conservation programme has yielded savings of some $6.3 million.
“We have had members from the Productivity Centre visiting high schools and speaking to fifth and sixth formers to get them to understand the relevance and importance of productivity. In addition, the Board is now moving to set up sectoral committees, looking at the different vital parts of the economy (such as) manufacturing, tourism and bauxite, to do work in providing information on productivity in those key areas, to help us to advance,” he said.
Additionally, the State Minister said the JPC and the Ministry have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the HEART Trust/NTA, which will facilitate a “train the trainers” programme, “to ensure that the culture of productivity is inculcated in our young people who are being trained.”
He further noted that the JPC, with the assistance of the Japanese International Co-operation Agency, has been able to secure the services of a Japanese productivity expert for two years. The expert has been in the island for over a year, and “has done an amazing job, and has helped the JPC significantly in honing its skills,” the State Minister said.
The State Minister explained that the JPC can provide meaningful benchmarking information, best practices information, and will continue to provide all the necessary services. “So, I urge you to become involved in this drive for productivity. We want to get everybody in Jamaica to understand the concept and to understand that it is going to affect us all individually,” he stressed.