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Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

What Big Ass teach our govt and SME employers

In Corporate governance, Economy on 20/08/2014 at 4:25 am

The recent dip in labour productivity has the govt denying that restructuring is a failure. This and PM’s NDR speech reminded me that on 7 May, BT reported:  The government will help small and medium enterprises maximise their local and foreign workers’ contributions, amid the ongoing manpower crunch*.

They also reminded me about an article I had read about a US SME.

Big Ass is a US manufacturer of industrial and commercial fans. It makes its fans in the US (a high wage country), pays workers’ well (almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average) and is profitable and thriving. Surely it can teach the govt and our local manufacturers something about productivity in a high-wage environment?

The firm pays almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average. It also returns 30% of profits to its 500 employees in the form of bonuses or share programs. As a result, it can hire the best people, and keep them: in 2013 its retention rate was 88%, compared with a national average of 62%. It also gets a lot out of its workers: productivity is up by 175% since 2009 on one industry measure. Any profits that aren’t returned to workers are ploughed back into the firm. “If we have any money over at the end of the year, we’ve missed an opportunity to invest,” observes Mr Smith.

No rocket science or magic formula. It’s about paying gd wages and reinvesting in the biz, not being mean on wages, so that the SME owner can buy more properties or new super cars.

And its about growing “our own timber” (Ngiam Tong Dow, remember him?, not importing FTs:

Mr Smith’s biggest challenge today, he believes, is ensuring that Big Ass becomes what he calls “a 200-year company”. Part of that is down to people: he believes in hiring out of college, and moving those new hires through a range of different jobs. “We want young people to understand the whole company, because they’re going to be running it 40 years from now,” he says. Another part is hardwiring long-term thinking into the firm’s processes.

It’s also about spending on R&D

Big Ass invests nearly 9% of its revenues in R&D, more than twice the manufacturing-industry average in America. A lot is spent on hit-or-miss blue-sky research.

And it’s always about the long term future (think LKY in the 60s, 70s and 80s):

Privately held firms are not subject to the short-term whims of shareholders, but they face their own hurdles. Mr Smith’s son, Tristan, works for the company, but will his heirs want to cash out, offshore production or change the culture? To ensure that the firm’s values endure, Mr Smith is exploring ways to separate management and ownership, and embed the way the company does business into its formal structure. He has spent a lot of time looking at long-lived firms in Germany, Japan and elsewhere for inspiration. “For me, this is the most complicated and difficult problem to solve.”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/04/making-it-america

If Big Ass was a local SME, it would have brought in FTs by the container-load so that the owners could buy that Ferrari and luxury pent-house.

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*This was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s assurance to firms at the Malay-Muslim Business Conference held on Wednesday.

He said the government cannot ease up on the limits it has imposed on foreign worker inflows to Singapore.

However, Mr Lee added that the number of foreign workers in the country is still growing, though not as fast as before. [Interpretation: FTs will grow by the 747 and A380 cattle class, not by the container-load.]

He noted that small businesses are very worried about manpower and that many of them want more foreign workers. Those unable to find workers have had to turn away business.

Mr Lee’s advice to firms was to offer higher wages and exciting jobs as the best way to attract good people.

He noted that this is only possible if companies raise productivity and climb up the value chain.

Mr Lee said firms can tap the various government schemes available to do that.

He also encouraged companies to venture overseas, with the government’s help.

 

Productivity, ageing population & immigration

In Economy on 13/03/2014 at 4:37 am

It’s time for the govt to release productivity data on the various sectors rather than juz harp that productivity levels are not gd enough.. We can then see if the govt is telling us the truth that productivity increases lead to pay rises.

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

 This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

I read some where recently that Japan is one of the most productive nations as a result of aging and the refusal to let in the dogs FTs. The Japs use robots, lots of them.

But despite Japan’s success in growing per capita better than other Western countries (something we don’t hear from our Jap bashing ministers and their media allies) giving the lie that more FTs are needed, we need to accept that the PAP is not BSing completely when it comes to the consequences of ageing population and immigration.

Watch this “Face the Facts” BBC video

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25968269: Focus on why the US will still be growing faster than Europe Or Japan.

The number of people across the world over 65 years old will triple by 2050, drastically altering some countries’ demographic make-up, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Perceptions of this shift vary widely across the globe, the report says.

While 87% of Japanese believe the ageing population poses a problem to the country, only 26% of Americans agree.

The survey of 21 countries found that most people believe governments should be responsible for the care of their older populations.

These demographic shifts may adversely affect economies, as more elderly people depend on working-age men and women.

It’s a complex issue. And both the PAP, and GG and friends are not telling the truth.

Here’s another angle: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/02/10/age-shifts-weaken-global-economys-shock-absorbers/

The ratio of middle-aged to young matter because matters because the global economy’s ability to withstand deflationary shocks is lower when the middle-aged cohort starts dominating the young. That’s because the former saves more for retirement. In the United States, the median householder in the 45-to-54-year age group has 6 times more assets excluding home equity than someone younger than 35. But it is young peoples’ spending that spurs new investment, which in turn soaks up the savings of the middle-aged.

When the ratio is rising, as it is today, a bigger group of the middle-aged are trying to deploy their savings. But because the younger group is smaller in relative terms, its consumption is inadequate to encourage investment. As a result, the savings chase a limited number of investment opportunities, pushing up prices. Even a minor shock can lead to severe market fallout.

This phenomenon has many names: some call it a “savings glut,” others prefer “secular stagnation”. But the global population’s age structure has a message for policymakers: don’t underestimate the risks from turmoil in even minor emerging markets. With its shock absorbers frayed, the world economy will struggle to negotiate deflationary speed bumps. As the ratio of the middle-aged to the young is forecast to carry on rising for the next two decades, markets are in for a rocky ride.

The fact that those of us who disagree that we need a lot more FTS must be prepared to acknowledge is that the PAP has conventional wisdom on its side. We cannot deny this. What we have to do is keep reminding the PAP and other voters that LKY, Dr Goh and gang went against conventional development wisdom by allowing the MNCs to invest here. MNCs were seen as the new “colonialists”. Today, every country (bar a few) want them to invest in their countries.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

Low productivity: LKY and the DRUMS agree on its cause

In Economy, Political economy on 15/08/2013 at 5:11 am

I kid you not, miracles can happen. LKY agrees with the Blogging 7, Uncle Leong, E-Jay, s/o JBS, NSP, SDP and all the usual players of DRUMS. The latter have always argued that low productivity is the result of the FT policy. Not included Low or WP among the latter as I don’t know itheir stand on this issue.

Stoolies Foils, Comedy Straightmen ST: On the issue of making productivity gains, we lag behind many developed countries. In manufacturing and services, Singapore’s productivity is only 55 per cent to 65 per cent of that in Japan and the United States.

LKY: Because we have large numbers of migrants who do not fit into the workforce so easily and who do not speak English.Some hold work permits and do not stay for long – they leave within a few years, after developing skills.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={1072294113-18605-1765558123}

This appeared in Tuesday’s BT:

Manufacturing firms in Singapore relied on low-skilled foreign workers as substitutes for machinery between 2003 and 2008, sacrificing productivity levels in the process, according to a study.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) study released yesterday, however, found that other factors – unrelated to foreign workers – could have also caused the decline in automation, underscoring the need for greater R&D and product innovation.

The five years in question mark the government’s most recent period of liberal foreign labour policy. Between 2003 and 2008, the dependency ratio ceiling – which specifies the maximum proportion of foreign workers that companies can hire – was raised to 65 per cent; levies for unskilled work permit holders were reduced; and firms were allowed to hire work permit holders from China.

In its study of 1,500 manufacturing firms over that period, MTI found that those which hired relatively more low-skilled foreign workers relied less on machinery for production.

Doesn’t LKY’s words  and the MTI study show that the govt talk of increasing productivity over the yrs (from 1990s onwards) was juz that: talk? And now, the guy that was charged with leading the productivity drive in the late 1990s is now the chairman of Temasek? Isn’t S’pore a meritocracy, unlike M’sia?

Where LKY and the DRUMS would disagree is what would have happened if FTs didn’t come in by the cattle-truck load:

But you ask yourself how many small and medium-sized companies will pack up if we cut off the foreign workers?

But isn’t it a chicken-and-egg situation? Precisely because it is so easy and cheap to hire foreigners, the SMEs continue to rely on them. If the tap were tightened, they would be forced to find new ways of operation. There will be some that will shut down, but maybe some level of churn is necessary so that the economy can go on to be more productive.

You cut them off and you find the SMEs just caving in.

Would that be a bad thing, or could that just be a necessary transition?

If our SMEs collapse, we will lose more than half of our economy.

In a way, that is what the Government is now trying to do. They are trying to slow down the growth in the foreign labour force.

Yes, because the Singapore public feels uncomfortable with so many of them. Not because of the economics. From an economic point of view, we should grow.

So how do you see this ending now that we have started to tighten the tap? Does it mean that we will lose half of our economy?

As you bleed out the present workers on work permits, the economy will shrink. But we are keeping the same level and just slowing down the inputs of new workers. Not stopping them. You stop it, you are in trouble.

The DRUMS would argue that the SMEs wouldn’t collapse or move on. They would adapt. I don’t think any elected govt would dare take the risk of allowing SMEs to collapse. It could lose power. As Dr Goh liked to say, repeating a Western political aphorism, “Oppositions don’t win elections, govt lose them.”

Related posts:

Jokey

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/why-productivity-is-so-low-here/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/no-wonder-spores-productivity-so-low/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/productivity-ntuc-learn-from-china/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/singas-ft-replacement/

Serious

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/insufficient-public-data-a-reason-for-our-low-productivity-numbers/

 

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SPH, MediaCorp newsrooms should be like this?

In Humour, Media on 02/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

We saw the most surreal newsroom … There were no journalists there. “Why not?” we asked. “We don’t need them yet. The news hasn’t arrived.”

We learnt the news is literally delivered once a day by the state news agency. The job of the journalists was to read it out, word for word, unaltered.

BBC story

And the govt is wondering why productivity is so low? It’s not the SMEs with their poorly paid FTs. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media with highly paid copyists of govt media release.

 

Why productivity is so low here?

In Humour on 18/11/2012 at 5:49 am

Could what Homer Simpson says applies here: “If you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”? Substitute “American” for “S’porean”?

Think about it when you go to work tom.

And another thing for Grace Fu to think about. Maybe people will be productive if they are paid more? After all, one reason why they may not like their jobs is because of lowish pay caused by her beloved FTs. As to her comment that higher pay leads to great productivity, if it were so how come in the 1990s pay rocketed but not productivity?

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