Human resource development and productivity in the timber industry “the case of Ghana”

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The timber industry is an important segment of the Ghanaian economy. It has contributed immensely in the early l970 towards the G.D.P (11%), employment (70,000) and was second to Cocoa in foreign exchange earnings until 1996 when it lost that position to Gold and non-traditional export. This situation was a result of series of developments which adversely affected the industry culminating in the industry’s capacity utilization dropping to only 15% in 1982 and producing only 450,000M3 of logs in 1983. Foreign assistance through the Economic Recovery Program (E.R.P), helped to salvage the industry from total collapse. Thus by 1994, the utilization capacity has increased from 25% in 1984 to about 60% while the conversion efficiencies of the sawmills, also increased from 35% to 55%. In discussing problems associated with the industry’s performance emphasis is laid on obsolete machinery and equipment; lack of capital to expand; the effect of annual allowable cut of 1 .0 million (M3) and the need to find market for the lesser used species among others. Human resource training and development in the industry’s mills is relegated to the background. But the human resource need to be trained and developed to sustain the achievement so far made. Waste control, quality product and adding value to the raw material to earn more income from the limited resources calls for training and development of the human resource of the mills. This is because the fortunes of the mills are linked with the fortunes of the industry in general. This research was therefore to find out the mills with human resource training as a policy. Ascertain their production output, their productivity of labour, and compare them to those mills without human resource training as a policy to determine whether their labour productivity was the same and as such their production output. The research therefore collected data from, 40 sampled sawmills representing all sizes of mills based in Kumasi, and Takoradi. The data covered training and development policies, production output, staff strength, and wages among others. The study also collected information from 5 employees each from the 40 firms that responded. 20 of the responding employees wrongly filled the questionnaires. There [ore 1 80 employees responded representing 60 operators, 80 supervisors and 40 managers. 50 of the 60 operators were middle school leavers while 16.7% (10) hold second cycle school certificates. The supervisors have 28 of them holding second cycle school certificate with the rest being middle school leaving certificate holders. The managers have 57.5% holding second cycle school certificates. With 25% (10) holding middle school certificates while 17.5% (7) hold tertiary school certificates. Of the 180 respondents only 33.3% (60) of them have participated in any educational or training program. With the firms, only, 11 of the 40 respondents have training and development as a policy even though not well structured. The 11 firms have higher productivity and therefore greater production output than the 29 firms without human resource training program. There is therefore the need to focus on training and developing the human resource if the industry is to be able to compete favourably with other timber industries in the international market given restrictions imposed on the felling and utilization of logs.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Arts in Industrial Management, 1999