Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has urged business people in Barbados to pursue proactive measures designed to assess and increase their customers??? satisfaction.

While delivering the feature address on Monday at the opening of the Week of Excellence at the Grande Salle, Mr. Stuart listed the training of employees and the conducting of surveys to obtain feedback from clients on those aspects of service that must be improved, as some of the key initiatives which needed to be introduced.

During his wide-ranging address, the Prime Minister underscored the importance of healthy workplaces, saying an unhealthy worker and an unfit workplace could negatively impact productivity and lead to other undesirable results.

???Some of these are an increased burden being placed on our social security system, ranging from the payment of rising sickness benefit claims, and the increased operating expenses incurred as a result of the need to hire temporary workers to replace sick staff members, to the inability to meet stipulated deadlines originally agreed on with the business clientele,??? he suggested.

He stressed that Government regarded a safe and healthy work environment as an essential factor in raising productivity, and to this end, the Safety and Health at Work Act was proclaimed in 2013 to protect the health, safety and welfare of persons on the job.

???The Labour Department has been working with employers and other stakeholders to ensure that they are fully sensitised about the more salient features of the Act, and this effort has been reaping much success.

“It is notable that many businesses have embraced the notion of establishing Safety and Health Committees, as mandated by the legislation, and a number of them have developed training programmes to educate their employees about issues related to safety and health,??? the Prime Minister disclosed.

Mr. Stuart told his audience that in harmony with its commitment expressed in the Barbados Growth and Development Strategy 2013-2020, Government was working assiduously to improve labour force skills and competencies through wide-ranging changes in education and training systems, especially to embrace emerging sectors in the economy.

He pointed out that the Barbados Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy, which is sponsored by a European Union Grant of 49.9 million euros, was among the initiatives being undertaken.

???To date, a significant number of achievements have been recorded. Some 3, 645 public officers have received human resource development-related training; a draft National Qualifications Framework has been established; 42 National Vocational Qualifications and 56 Caribbean Vocational Qualifications have been created; and institutional assessments for some government agencies such as the Personnel Administration Division and Training Administration Division will commence this week,??? he further revealed.

Mr. Stuart identified the Skills-for-the-Future Programme, a US$20 million project being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, as another critical element of the HRD Strategy.

He noted that the Competency-Based Training Fund, which seeks to improve the alignment between the supply of training and market demand by offering certified training in a variety of areas needed by employers in the labour market, was an important feature of the project.

???At present, over 200 persons have received training in demanded disciplines such as Customer Service, Industrial Security Operations, Occupational Health and Safety and Business Enterprise Development. Reviews of the initiative so far indicate that it has, to a large extent, been well received by employers and training institutions,??? he surmised.

The Week of Excellence Programme will continue with a number of workshops for public and private sector employees at various locations throughout the week.

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