OECS Labour Market Information Systems Project Document
I. Problem analysis and justification
The small Island states making up the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are increasingly facing the impact of ongoing globalisation as well as hemispheric and regional integration. The impact of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union has recently entered the discussion as a major factor in the debate on this sub-region’s development efforts. These integration processes, including the envisaged OECS Economic Union are a response to the impact of globalization and present their own challenges.
Agriculture, the traditional export industry, suffered serious losses in terms of export earnings, GDP and employment contribution and the transition to new economic activities including tourism are just as challenging. Ensuring the availability of statistics to monitor economic growth, trade, productivity, employment levels and how key aspects of development are related takes on an importance of its own in this environment.
Despite the obvious need for improvement, information on economic growth is already available for all OECS countries from the National Accounts. However, information on employment is generally only available for the Population Census years. Statistics on wages and other labour related indicators are not available or insufficient1. This data is of critical importance not only for monitoring decent work and evidence-based policy formulation but also as input data necessary for the compilation of productivity indicators. Finally, Labour Market Information can be used to supplement or verify specific National Accounts estimates.
The current situation is the result of structural limitations, some elements of the national statistical strategies that are implemented and less-than-optimal policy responses to the challenge of establishing efficient labour market information/statistical systems.
1 At present, only one OECS member state (i.e. Saint Lucia) compiles and produces regular labour market information, by means of a household Labour Force Survey and an establishment Occupational Wages Survey. The other OECS member states have embarked on ad hoc initiatives within the last decade, to deal with the perpetual deficiency in labour market information, in large measure with little success.
In response to this persistent lack of information on employment and other labour-related issues, governments in the OECS have been increasing their spending on labour market information. These investments could only be sustainable if they are integrated into a strategic approach and three-year action plan. Such a plan must consider the structural challenges and the high development costs of establishing a sustainable labour market information system and its major components: a strategic framework; the statistical infrastructure; data sources and a dissemination system. In addressing this challenge, a project approach is being adopted to complete the development stage of establishing sustainable labour market information systems and mobilising external funding to supplement the effort of local governments.
While there is a need to plan the establishment of labour market information systems in the specific context of the Eastern Caribbean, these plans must be embedded in similar efforts in the wider Caribbean and the development of the national statistical systems as whole. Consequently, this project is designed in close collaboration with other regional organisations including the Secretariat of the CARICOM, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and related regional projects2. In this sense, the current effort to establish sustainable labour market information systems differs from earlier efforts to because it:
1) Covers all OECS countries. This opens up new opportunities for:
a) Harmonisation of methods, concepts, operational and organisational aspects
b) Find cheaper and tailored solutions to technical assistance and IT challenges faced in
LMI projects 2) Integrates the LMIS into other OECS wide efforts to adopt at least the core of a national
statistical strategy. Such national statistical strategies will be the vehicle to:
a) Focus national statistical capacity on a basic survey programme and the related human
resources, statistical infra-structure and inter-agency collaboration b) Translate the need for LMI into commitment of national governments to allocate funds from international sources to complete the development phase of the LMIS c) Ensure ongoing nature of the activities through the ongoing allocation of local sources. 3) Emanates from the specific national agencies that must produce the necessary information at the national level 4) Aims to establish statistical capability that the OECS member states can not maintain individually considering the challenges related to the “economy of scale” 5) Involves several donor and technical cooperation agencies
Finally, from the above it is clear that funding as well as implementation, demand close collaboration of national agencies, regional organisations, international and donor agencies/countries at the national and regional levels. More specifically, this programme is part of and a direct outcome of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ILO and the OECS Secretariat and implementation modalities will reflect the obvious and important need to mobilise all potential resources to achieve the programme objectives.
2 These projects include the following projects: CARICOM’s Regional Statistical Work Programme (RSWP) and the Caribbean Integration Support Programme (CISP); ECCB’s/OECS’s Statistical Action Plan OECS Labour Market Programme, Programme for Improved Statistical Systems in the OECS; OERU (OECS Educational Reform Unit); ILO’s Harmonisation of Labour Force Surveys of Five Caribbean Countries
II. Project implementation strategy
II.1 Establishing capability at the national level and use of LMI
The project’s strategy focuses on generating strong interagency collaboration in establishing (statistical) infrastructure and (human) capability to sustain the data sources established by the project at the national level, and to integrate the dissemination of statistical products into the policy instruments and/or publications traditionally used in the respective countries. While, the project originated in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, basing the implementation strategy of the project at the “national level” reflects the natural evolution of the project from the national to the sub-regional level. Country and project documents were developed by the ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean and dedicated national agencies3 in this country and inter-agency collaboration and mechanisms for implementation have already been established. Consequently, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will be the pilot country for the project.
II.2 Human resource development
The human development aspect of the strategy being adopted is one of “learning by doing”. At the operational level, this means:
· Creating a close working relationship between international expertise needed in the development stage and local expertise responsible for continued implementation of statistical operations. By adopting this approach both local and international expertise will be technically responsible for producing the deliverables: the survey designs, sample designs, technical and implementation manuals, managing and monitoring data collection, tabulation and reporting.
· Participation of other country experts in the development stage in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines through study tours.
· Mentoring and strategically planned short visit by international experts to the other countries whilst they are at the planning and preparatory stage
II.3 Adapting to national circumstances and regional consensus
To firmly embed the project objectives and activities in the national circumstances and respond to actual local needs, the dedicated national agencies will have to adapt the respective Saint Vincent and the Grenadines project documents to this effect or develop new ones. Work programmes and time lines as wells project implementation mechanisms and procedures will be based on a regional document developed form the national project documents. This will also provide the opportunity to adopt a strategy for harmonisation of LMI as one of the major project objectives
II.5 Institutional arrangements
The ILO and the OECS will collaborate in the execution of the project in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations.
A Project Director will be charged with the responsibility for technical, managerial and financial aspects of project implementation and will report to joint ILO/OECS Project Advisory Committee,
A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) will provide guidance to the Project Director and ensure feedback from the main stakeholders.
Project implementation will be decentralised to the national level, based on mechanisms and procedures agreed on by the donors, the ILO, the OECS Secretariat and the mandated national agency responsible for programme implementation.
III. Objectives and products
III.1 Development objective
After the implementation of the project, policymakers from the Government, Employers’ Organisation and Trade Unions and others in the OECS countries will have more of the LMI they need to take action or to use in the design, monitoring and evaluation of labour market, employment and labour policies aimed at Decent Work and accelerated national development.
III.2 Immediate objectives The immediate objective is to design and adopt an LMI system funded by the current budget of the Governments of the OECS countries. This entails establishing the necessary national institutional structure, the basic data sources of the information system, a household survey, an enterprise-based survey, and dedicated administrative databases in the Department of Labour the National Insurance Service and the Ministry of Agriculture-and an information dissemination
system based on (i) selected, key national reports and (ii) a public internet-based “one window” facility. The following project outcomes are identified:
At the National Level
Outcome. 1 LMI is properly planned and sufficiently integrated into the government budget
Outcome. 2 Reliable and affordable data sources for LMI are firmly established to produce LMI with a specified periodicity
Outcome. 3 An LMI dissemination platform is established that enables policy makers and the public to use LMI for policy and action
At the Regional Level
Outcome. 4 An LMI dissemination platform is established that enables policy makers and the public to use LMI for policy and action Stakeholders in the OECS countries reach consensus on an OECS-
wide LMI strategy that reflects the national LMI plans and budget
Outcome. 5 A regional statistical unit is established at the OECS Secretariat that
is charged with the implementation of the OECS Action Plan for
the harmonisation of statistics, the provision of research and
development and training services to the National Statistical Offices
and the review of the quality of national statistics.
A detailed overview of national level outcomes, outputs/products, activities and inputs for this project is presented in the project document for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines4, and below is a summary of the actual products that will be delivered during the lifetime of the project in each participating country:
1. A document containing the Multi-Annual LMI programme, an LMI strategy that is funded by national and international resources
2. A Statistical Unit is established in the Department of Labour
3. The first edition of a report series on “expected, direct job creation from major investment projects” is published and integrated into selected reports/documents
4. A report “Revision of the Department of Labour’s procedures, standardised forms/records and their computerisation” that includes a section on the statistical indicators to be produced from revised records
5. The administrative records of the Department of Labour are computerised in two steps:
a. Standardizing forms and manuals for labour administrative processes and establishing “stand alone electronic databases” for selected labour administrative records
b. Networking the various units and operations of the department
6. Databases are created for statistical purposes from the computerised administrative records of the Department of Labour and the National Insurance Service
7. The first edition of a publication containing a set of statistical indicators is produced from the statistical databases generated from the administrative records of the DoL, the NIS, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture
8. A survey report of the 2010 Census/Labour Force Survey (National Statistical Office)
9. An establishment register is established and maintained by an inter-agency platform (National Statistical Office, National Insurance Service, Department of Labour and the Inland Revenue Service) and the related legal framework is in place
10. A National report of the 2009 Enterprise Survey of the National Statistical Office (National Accounts, wages and employment)
11. The first report of the revised continuous agricultural data collection on agricultural employment, production and prices of the Ministry of Agriculture is published
12. Labour market analysis sections appear in selected reports of national significance
13. A public, internet based LMI dissemination facility
14. An operational and staffing plan for the Statistical unit at the OECS Secretariat
IV. Target groups
IV.1 Direct beneficiaries
The LMI producers engaged in the production of LMI based on the Multi-Annual LMI programme in each OECS state as well as at the OECS Secretariat
4 Diagram 1 and Annex 1 (page 14)
IV.2 Indirect beneficiaries
Indirect beneficiaries of the project are policy makers in government, businesses, trade unions and other users including research institutes, training agencies and individual job seekers.