Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Karl Samuda, says productivity initiatives, being spearheaded by the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), are critical given the continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. These initiatives include the development of a National Productivity Improvement Policy and the commitment to provide data-driven interventions and collaboration with other ministries, departments and agencies, unions, the private sector and other key stakeholders.
The Minister’s assertion comes against the background of the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the demand and supply of goods, services and labour. He emphasised that firms and industries that have been able to quickly adapt to changes have seen positive outcomes in their productivity levels but on the other hand, industries with historically low levels of productivity have been the most impacted by the pandemic.
According to Minister Samuda, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) recognises the importance of research and development, innovation and investment in addressing issues of productivity. To encourage this, the Government of Jamaica aims to strengthen institutions and provide infrastructure to enhance research and development; and adopt new technologies that not only increase volume and value of output, but also complement and not displace labour.
“We must emphasise that as the MLSS continues to support the efforts to facilitate recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. The primary focus in the short term is targeted strategies to build the resilience of the labour market,” Minister Samuda said. He further pointed out that there is no one all-embracing approach that can be taken, as improvements in productivity on a national level will require a varying mix of approaches, especially given the pandemic. This includes, among other things, strategies that focus on building the human capital capacity to prepare the labour force to be engaged in higher productivity activities.
Minister Samuda says an increased focus will be placed on ensuring companies have the necessary guidance and support they need to efficiently and effectively convert inputs, increase outputs, and reduce non-value-added processes.
Other initiatives being pursued by the JPC include:
- Encouraging the efficient use of technology and effective utilisation of the virtual space in carrying out business activities;
- Encouraging the adoption of effective and tailored flexible work arrangements (Flexitime) to engage workers and boost worker productivity during COVID-19 and beyond;
- Pursuing and implementing a national strategy for training and development techniques specifically to improve productivity at both the enterprise and national levels;
- Encouraging stakeholders engagement in community-based programmes, with a view to stimulating higher productivity amongst workers from those communities that benefited from such programmes; and
- Engaging the education sector in productivity-based collaborations to promote productivity (internally) among academic institutions, while simultaneously educating other sectors of economy about productivity.