Improving Productivity Critical To Economic Development

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"Improving productivity should not be seen as an end in itself, but as a means of improving workers’ lives, the sustainability of enterprises, social cohesion and economic development."

Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo stressed this today, as she addressed the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO’s) Workshop on Tripartite Training in the System for the Measurement And Improvement of Productivity (SYMAPRO), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

She said: "It is affected by factors at the individual level, for example, health, education and training; by factors at the enterprise level, such as management, investment in plant and equipment and occupational safety and health; and by factors at the national level, such as supportive national policies, economic strategies, policies to maintain a sustainable business environment, and investments in education."

Reminding participants of the Medium-Term Development Strategy that sets out a broad framework of policies and programmes for 2010 to 2014, she noted that productivity and competitiveness were included among the special development areas of focus. "This plan serves as an important recovery tool to guide the country as it emerges from the global recession," the Labour Minister said.

It was also pointed out that through partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank, Government had developed a Barbados Competitiveness Programme.?? The initiative has a number of broad objectives that aim, among others, to rationalise the incentive system, as well as regulations to ensure a coherent framework to support business development; improve logistics and trade facilitation; and strengthen public/private dialogue.

The Labour Minister acknowledged that certain prerequisites must be in place for Barbados to increase productivity. She cited the need to have people employed with the right skills and positive work ethic, supported by caring management in an environment where everyone benefits.

Dr. Byer Suckoo stressed: "Companies benefit through increased profitability and less wastage.?? Workers benefit because more productive companies give better pay and provide better working conditions. Customers benefit through better quality, less expensive products and improved services.?? This all redounds to the benefit of the country."

Meanwhile, President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Cedric Murrell, in giving labour’s support for the training and its position on productivity and the current economic crisis said: "Labour is steadfast in its support for productivity measurement and improvement and the sharing of productivity gains as it was two decades ago."

He further alluded to the current debate on the public sector’s role as an efficient facilitator of entrepreneurship. Mr. Murell stated: "We hear also of the various productivity and incentive schemes in the private sector, and so they should be. But, has anyone in Barbados thought of incentivising the public sector and if so, where are the models?

"This will be a critical factor in the drive for increased efficiency and world class performance. For it is, as we are told, the public sector that is an integral part of creating the enabling environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to soar…"

The workshop, which concludes on November 26,?? is a collaborative effort on the part of the ILO’s Inter-American Centre for Knowledge Development in Vocational Training; ILO’s Country Office for Mexico and Cuba and ILO’s Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean.??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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