President and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Emanuel DaRosa, in confirming that the company’s thrust into automation will result in job losses, said developing its technology is necessary for the company to remain relevant.
The talks of job losses comes amid an acknowledgement by the Canadian-born CEO that JPS has one of the most educated staff complement that he has ever worked with.
“I’ve often said that this is the most educated utility that I’ve ever worked or been associated with. There are more Master’s and PhDs and multiple degrees than I’ve seen in any other utility. At my last utility, I was one of the most learned people in that company and today I find myself with a senior management team with PhDs and different levels of education,” DaRosa told editors and reporters during the newspaper’s bi-weekly Monday Exchange.
“It is a different system from Jamaica to Canada and I did a lot of my learning on the job. But my assessment of JPS is that there are some gaps, but there is a lot to be proud of for the employees and for the country. Reliability can be better and it will have to be better,” he said. The event was held at the Jamaica Observer’sBeechwood Avenue location in Kingston.
Today, JPS employs 1,700 individuals. But that number is expected to be reduced as the company looks to implement technologies that will contribute to a more efficient organisation that is keen on the safety of its employees as well as the social development of Jamaica. Energy efficiency is also an integral part of JPS’ push to become a more modern and cleaner-energy provider.
Chief among the automation process is the roll-out of smart meters. The company plans on pumping US$25 million in the technology to tackle losses, which now stands at US$26.5 million; 18 per cent of which is due to theft and non-technical losses. The light and power company has quoted another US$10 million in bad debt each year.
“Automation will reduce the need for human capital, but it is also a requirement for JPS to remain efficient and relevant. If we ignore customer needs and alternatives that customers may have before them, then we will become obsolete, so it is important that we protect the jobs of our employees by being efficient,” DaRosa told the Caribbean Business Report.
He added that it would be recklessness on his part to be inefficient and continue to raise electricity prices because of gaps within the organisation.
“So it is something that the entire world is grappling with. More and more industries are requiring less human input into their operations. That’s the way of the world and its one that we at JPS can’t ignore. Right now we are looking at our entire organisation from top to bottom and where do we find efficiencies in the organisation. We are looking for opportunities to streamline the business; we have to do it for our investors, our customers, and to ensure that JPS is here for the long term,” he said.