JIS News

The Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), is this year seeking to create among Jamaicans, greater awareness of the importance of productivity to the country’s social and economic development.
According to Executive Director of the JPC, Dr. Charles Douglas, statistics have shown that Jamaicans are still not culturally attached to the critical importance of productivity. The JPC is Jamaica’s premier advisory organisation on productivity matters. In a recent interview with JIS news, Dr. Douglas says the country’s low productivity levels are attributed to, among other things, a number of environmental and cultural factors. “It has been observed that Jamaica’s productivity levels are way below that of some of our Caribbean counterparts and also accepted standards globally. Based on this observation, factors attributing to this were identified as environmental and cultural, executive capacity and blurred picture of the human resources,” he outlines.
He says this year’s three-day conference (October 28-30), on productivity, will address the concerns that have been expressed. “One of the measures to address the above stated productivity concerns is Productivity Awareness Week, hosted annually by the Centre. This year the conference will be held under the theme ‘Going the distance for global competitiveness’. The goals of the conference are to foster a productivity improvement culture among Jamaicans through public education, and to expose private and public sector managers to practical approaches to productivity improvement,” he explains. Dr. Douglas pinpoints that the National Productivity Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for the JPC to assist firms in becoming more competitive, not only with local competitors but internationally.
“The National Productivity Conference, will provide an excellent opportunity for the JPC to be able to assist firms to explore selected productivity improvement tools that have had significant impact on company profitability, quality, response time and competitiveness; educate stakeholders about the strong and positive correlation between productivity and competitiveness; as well as to communicate the fact that productivity growth is critical for both regional and global competitiveness,” says Dr. Douglas, adding that “these objectives are critical as most firms that ask for assistance tend to believe productivity is a walk in the park”.
“Essentially, we provide services in both the public and private sector and the responses have been mixed. We have to convince persons that they can do better because persons start out with an attitude that they are doing fine. One of the most frequent problems that we find within some firms, is that they want to set up a productivity link, which is important. But they are sometimes of the view that this will take five minutes until they realise it is a process and they have to get it right otherwise it’s not going to be sustainable,” he says.
The conference will have five components, including a leadership dialogue, which Dr. Douglas deems to be critical for Jamaica today.”The productivity conference is structured to include five components and several target groups. What we will be doing is to sit down with business leaders, union leaders, public sector leaders, and we will be having discussions in terms of how can we advance the productivity agenda,” he says.
Dr. Douglas tells JIS News, that the leadership dialogue session of the conference is critically important, as it will eradicate the barriers between middle managers and the head of an organisation in carrying out projects.
“We recognise that if you work with an organisation as a middle manger and want to launch a productivity improvement programme, the extent to which this is sustainable depends on support from the top managers. So we want to seek the support of the leadership of business or workers’ organisations, employers’ organisations, saying that this is where we are going and we can’t move forward without you showing your support. In other words leadership in the productivity movement is generally important,” he asserts.
The other four components include: the opening ceremony, which will focus on creating the buzz about productivity; Public Sector Confab, which will see the JPC and the MoU III Secretariat, collaborating on matters in accordance with the provisions of that agreement between Government and public sector workers; General Practitioners Session, which will look at techniques to measure and improve productivity; and Hospitality Industry Practitioners, the objective of which is to provide industry specific productivity tools and techniques, to managers and supervisors.
Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, will attend the opening session as the keynote speaker. Approximately 150 participants are expected to attend each day.