The National Productivity Development Department was a result of a merger between the National Productivity Department which was created in 1993 and the Education and Occupational Assessment Services (EOAS) department which had been in existence since 1968.
The Ministry’s mandate of promoting the decent working agenda calls to the platform all those aspects attending a workplace vis-à-vis workers, management and capital. The combination of which is a subject matter of productivity. Commonly referred to as the ratio of output to input, productivity determines how well the factors of production are combined to create value.
The Department’s role is to translate the productivity theme into terms that are relevant and consistent with the national socio-economic context, development needs, economic structures and development strategies. It aims to put the concept of productivity in concrete and operational perspectives that enable government, employers, employees and the population at large to identify with and define the roles and contributions to national and enterprise level productivity improvement efforts. This network of institutions, in turn, constitutes the capability base for sustained and continuing national productivity and quality improvement effort.
The Department offers advisory services, counselling, training and extension services to the private and public sector on productivity management; measurement of productivity, improvement tools and control of productivity programmes at enterprise levels.
The department also offers professional assessment services for recruitment of employees and/or selection for tertiary training. The aim is to administer assessment tools in order to contribute to national productivity Improvement.
The strategic focus in the promotion of productivity revolves around the issue of awareness. Given that the primary source of productivity improvement is at an enterprise level. The players involved in this process i.e. the employers and the employees are key to ensuring the optimal utilisation of resources to realise the desired output in an efficient and effective manner. Whereas the relationship between the two may be legislated (to some extent), much of the ingredients necessary for achieving sustained productivity improvement can only be cultivated through consensus. In building this consensus, an appreciation of the underlying factors involved in productivity improvement is a necessity for both parties. Hence, the need for awareness creation as an inevitable prerequisite to productivity improvement.
In addition, it has to be recognised that, what cannot be measured cannot be improved. Productivity Measurement, therefore, forms an essential counterpart of improvement.
The existence of the department also aims at providing affordable and easily accessible consultancy services to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Youth, Women and the differently abled, Small Scale Farmers and other vulnerable economic players.
Productivity and Quality Improvement Section
The following are some of the focal areas of the Productivity and Quality Improvement Section:
Productivity is a catalyst to national development and central to achieving any meaningful sustainable development of a country like Zambia is the issue of productivity improvement. The department provides policy advice on productivity related issues to government. It ensures that the country’s major economic policy framework pronouncements underscore the need for productivity improvement in all work life.
For dissemination purposes, the department produces a bi-annual publication – Productivity Zambia Magazine, brochures, posters and various other publications.
Consultancy in the area of productivity and quality is currently being offered to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Cooperative Associations, Mining Companies, Manufacturing Companies, Service Organisations, Government and Parastatal Institutions.
Exhibitions have proved very effective in reaching a wide spectrum of the public. In this respect, the department participates at the Country’s major Trade Fairs and Shows.
The department holds provincial productivity and quality symposia for heads of major institutions on major developmental issues that impact on productivity and quality improvement. The aim is to build a critical mass of knowledgeable, development-oriented decision makers with the ability to initiate productivity and quality improvement activities in their respective organisations.
Various sensitization programmes for, tertiary students, workers and employers are undertaken as an ongoing activity of the department.
For tertiary students, the aim is to prepare their mindsets vis-à-vis the requirements of the labour market. For those in employment, sensitization instils a sense of continuous improvement which is a basic prerequisite for sustained productivity improvement.
Employers are exposed to modern tools and techniques for improving productivity and quality. Further, a realisation and recognition by employers of the importance of labour in the formula for productivity improvement are emphasised. The ultimate aim is to help enterprises establish close links with customers and suppliers while improving leadership practices that promote teamwork, participation, continuous learning and flexibility.
Training constitutes a prominent activity of the department. Small and Medium Enterprises, in particular, remain the focus of Government intervention and the department currently plays the key role of facilitator.
The department performs the role of linking pin, actively linking those who need productivity improvement information and assistance to the appropriate resource Institutions, national and international. It operates within a network of technical and management development Institutions and taps on the collection of the network. Interaction in this respect is encouraged amongst the social partners (Government, Employers and Employees), Business and Professional Associations and Academia.
On the international scene, Zambia is a founder member of the Pan African Productivity Association (PAPA) on whose board the department is represented by the Director. The department also closely collaborates with other National Productivity Organisations in Africa and other parts of the world.
Given that productivity improvement happens at the organisational level, it is imperative that measurement too is undertaken. The department offers two types of services in this regard:
Before any intervention measures are undertaken, it is necessary to understand the operational factors with a view to not only determining the problem at hand but the underlying root causes. This then becomes the basis for intervention.
Productivity measurement is also useful for assessing the impact of various intervention measures as well as to provide general indicators useful for management decision making at the enterprise level and policy-making at national level.
Productivity Award System
In order to place an incentive on productivity improvement, the department is in the process of developing a comprehensive productivity/excellence award system.
The department has sought to establish strong links with academic and research institutions with a view to sharing knowledge in the development of appropriate productivity research methodologies.
This section exists in order to assist organizations in various sectors of the economy to decide on some of the most important issues pertaining to the selection of individuals to train, employ or promote.
The section, since 1968, is mandated to contribute to the attainment of efficiency in training and employing institutions by using psychological measures and procedures. These measures and procedures are intended to help in the eradication of the numerous and non-productive…..`isms` such as favouritism, racism, tribalism, nepotism, etc.
It is interesting to note that the section has remained focused and it has contributed greatly to the proper utilization of Zambia`s human resource. It has indeed helped to ensure that right people are placed in different and various positions on merit.
Human Resource Recruitment and Selection
The section is involved in objective human resource selection and placement. Needless to mention that this is the most critical stage or area that shapes the eventual status of any organization and should thus be handled with utmost professional delicacy.
Test Development and Validation
This involves the construction of new reliable and valid psychometric tests appropriate to the changing needs of the current labour markets.
This service is rendered by the section to help individuals determine their appropriate areas of possible career paths that they could follow. One of the most effective instruments the section employs is the Rothwell Miller Interest Blank.
Our clientele is broad-based. It includes the Ministry of Health (Nursing Schools), the banking sector, i.e., both public and private, Security wings such as Zambia Army, Zambia National Service, Office of the President etc. Others include Zambia Revenue Authority, Sandvik Mining & Construction, various Insurance companies. In short, our services are demanded by a wide spectrum of both the private and public sector and it should be mentioned at this juncture that our services continue to increase on yearly bases.
Kaizen project (with support from Japan Productivity Centre)
The department has sort to secure links with both local and international organisations with a view to complementing existing structures and efforts of various institutions in the pursuit of its mandate. One of such partnerships has been the association with the Japan Productivity Centre (JPC) under whose auspices the Kaizen project has been designed.
Following a visit to Zambia in February 2010 by a team of Japan Productivity experts, a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Japan Productivity Centre. The two parties undertook to collaborate in the area of helping Zambian companies enhance their competitiveness through the adoption of renowned modern productivity and quality improvement tools.
The National Productivity Development Department provides consultancy to the identified companies whilst the JPC deputises experts on two occasions annually for one week in each case to provide technical support.
*Kaizen (Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the better”) refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes, and management.
The department in consultation with stakeholders is in the process of establishing a national productivity measurement system. The system is aimed at providing productivity indicators at national and enterprises.
Labour productivity is a useful measure as it relates to the single most important factor of production; it is intuitively appealing and relatively easy to measure. However, it only partially reflects the productivity of Labour in terms of the personal capacities of workers or the intensity of their efforts. Labour productivity reflects how efficiently Labour is combined with other factors of production. This makes Labour productivity a good starting point for the analysis of some of these factors.
In addition, the system will endeavour to provide additional measures at an enterprise level, namely; Labour Productivity, Capital Productivity, Labour cost competitiveness and Total Factor Productivity.
The specific focus at enterprise level will be towards the promotion of the productivity measurement tools. The aim will be to create awareness about the need to improve productivity at an enterprise level. Effective productivity improvement, however, requires that first a measure is done to establish the current status and to measure the impact of improvement activities afterwards.
In addition to creating a framework for providing vital Labour productivity statistics, an incentive framework aimed at motivating enterprises to participate will also form an important part of this project
An award system will be implemented as part and parcel of this project.
Through an appropriate award criterion which will be developed in consultation with stakeholders and using data gathered for enterprise productivity measurement, deserving firms will be awarded once annually.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security set up a mechanism to pilot the viability of a fully fledged National Productivity Organisation (NGO) in the form of the Zambia National Productivity Centre Project from 2007 to 2010. This was an attempt to comply with SADC Protocol of 1999 and in keeping with the FNDP.
Currently, a review process is underway before the next course of action is determined.