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Economics: Labor Productivity Essay

1195 words - 5 pages

QUESTION 3
‘Labour productivity in the construction sector is dependent upon the quantity and quality of resources employed.’ Explain this statement.

Labour economics is most concerned with studying the labour force as one of the prime elements in the process of production. Productivity is the measurement of efficiency, and it is figured by calculating the quantity of goods produced by the quantity of resources, labour and capital that are required to produce them. Some of the resources are more difficult to quantify than others. For example, labour can be easily quantified by counting the number of workers and man hours utilized on a project, and capital outlay expenses are fairly easy to track.

More difficult to figure out are increases in productivity due to factors like increased efficiency of the labour market as employees become more skilled, or utilize better equipment or other resources to improve their efficiencies in the workplace. In industrialized countries, increased efficiency is also seen as economic development; specifically as technology enables surges in efficiency. We can look back on Europe or the United States after developments of steam power, the railroad or the gas motor and see majour advancements in productivity. Likewise, innovations in the 20th century, most notably the assembly line and computers, have lead to huge increases in productivity.

A number of factors affect the productivity ratio in construction; labour force, processes, quality and external influences. The quantity and quality of resources utilized has a direct result on productivity. Utilizing the highest quality equipment, best supplies and most skilled workers will certainly produce better results in a shorter period of time than the opposite-- inferior quality construction supplies, inadequate equipment and unskilled labour. Modifying any one of these resources can have a significant impact on productivity. For instance, if all factors remain the same except that an unskilled worker is replaced with a highly efficient one, the expectation is that productivity will increase. However, it likely will not increase as much as it would if that worker were given the best tools and equipment, or building supplies that are easiest to work with.

Companies use different strategies to improve efficiency and productivity; changing management structure and financial incentives for workers are two common strategies that focus on the workers. Quality programs are often utilized to reduce wastes and produce more at a lower overall cost. Companies use goal setting, planning and organisation to ensure the best productivity rates.

It is critical that businesses understand what factors can negatively impact productivity-- things like a small labour pool, not using new technology for production gains, and lack of adequate worker training and support—and address these issues to be most productive.

One final note that is extremely important is that utilizing the...

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