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Friday, 30 November 2012 10:54

John Heap : “Productivity growth is a long-term issue" Featured

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The National Productivity and Competitiveness Council (NPCC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Productivity (UK) on Thursday 29 November 2012 at the NPCC head office in Ebène.
The MOU will develop a partnership to deliver productivity and applied management training in Mauritius and with the NPCC acting as a training hub for Africa. The training will be coordinated by the National Open College Network in the UK (a Government licensed Authority) and the qualification will be regulated by the National Qualification Framework of the UK.

The qualification will also be endorsed by the World Confederation of Productivity Science. In this connection the NPCC has invited John Heap, a productivity expert and currently the president of World Confederation of Productivity Science to give a free public training session in Mauritius. The one-day training session took place at the Octave Wiehe auditorium on Thursday 29 November under the theme: ‘Mauritius Unlimited-Create, Share, Enjoy.’

We wanted to have the views of Professor John Heap on the necessity for Mauritius to focus on productivity as one of its strategies for growth and development.

What is your Measurement of Productivity?
The simplest measure – of national productivity – is GDP/labour hour … but this does not take into account longer term issues such as any environmental damage caused.  So, we need to measure economic productivity in this way and then modify it, for example, tonnes of CO2 produced per capita. We can also modify it using social measures.  The aims are to create a composite measure which says … “this is what we are doing today to create the future wealth and well-being of our country.”

Is a five-day workshop sufficient for the Improving of the National productivity of a country?
This is hopefully a catalyst.  We need to get all of the key stakeholders – educators, employers, trades-unions and the government – thinking about productivity and working out what they can do separately and collectively to ‘make a difference’.  But productivity growth is a long-term issue.  You can’t pay concentrate for 5 days and then switch off.

What is the relationship between climate change, protection of the environment and national productivity?
See my answer to your first question. It is important that governments and global corporations stop ‘fixing the problem’ by cleaning up the mess they make.  They need to re-design what they do so they don’t make the mess in the first place.  They need to look at all of social, environmental and economic productivities and balance ‘simple’ economic growth with regard for the other factors.

Producing more also means polluting more with more solid wastes, waste water and gas emission. What is the current equation between producing and polluting in the developing world and how far can the authorities reduce the ratio to its minimum?
Developing countries – understandably – want to ‘catch up’.  They therefore tend to think they should be ‘allowed’ to create their ‘share’ of pollution – after all the developed countries have done so for decades.  However this is a short-sighted view. As we start to run out of fossil fuels, energy costs will start to rise dramatically.  Developing countries should seek an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ some processes and polluting activities – much like some, for example, have leapfrogged landline telecommunications and gone straight to mobile.

What will be the main issues to be discussed at the biennial World Productivity Congress?  
We are looking at the effects of ‘digitisation’ and technology on the way in which the world works – and lives … and the implications to society of issues such as ‘big data’.  Who ‘owns’ the data on us collected by all the social media, the governments and so on.   Going back to issues of pollution, what form will cities and workplaces take in the future as energy costs rise and we have to look at alternative ways of doing things.

What is the World Confederation of Productivity Science (WCPS) and how its voice is heard by world leaders?
The WCPS is a global not-for-profit that links productivity centres around the globe.  We publish papers and help our members share knowledge that they can use to set the ‘productivity agenda’ in their own countries.  We are absolutely committed to the notion that if we can all together help create wealth – and if we can ensure that wealth is shared equitable – we create the conditions to feed the worlds and to create world peace.

The developed countries have since long taken appropriate measures to bring a balance between productivity and wastes. What is alarming is that developing countries which have become more or less dumping grounds of the developed countries’ productivity are facing serious threats including sanitation, air and water pollution and furthermore on food production. What can be done to save developing countries from such negative impacts of world productivity?

Good question. We need a shared set of values – which can then be translated into a shared set of regulations, frameworks and procedures which ensure that the developed world does not exploit the developing countries. This needs concerted shared action – probably under the auspices of the UN.  The Global Compact is a start – but we need to go further … and the really big nations have to take a lead and accept their responsibility to ‘share’ their good fortune and use their wealth to create a more level playing field across the globe.



Indradev Curpen

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