This approval was handed down at a special meeting of the OECS Labour Force Survey (LFS) Taskforce convened virtually on February 18, 2021. The Taskforce directed the pre-testing of the now fully-functional, digitised questionnaire in every Member State.
The resulting LFS statistics have a variety of uses and users. Labour statistics have a significant part to play in the achievement of decent work for all, by informing on the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes for job creation, appropriate working conditions, sound industrial relations, work-life balance, and assistance for vulnerable groups.
The revision, harmonisation, and digitalisation was undertaken by the OECS LFS Taskforce with representatives from the OECS Commission, the national statistics office (NSO) in each Member State; International Labour Organisation (ILO); Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the World Bank. Among the responsibilities of the Taskforce were:
- To assess the current version of the OECS LFS questionnaire against the modularised model questionnaire developed by the ILO in 2018.
- To recommend a core set of questions and modules to be contained in the questionnaire that meets regional and national data requirements while also ensuring compliance with the 19th and 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) standards.
- To provide technical input on the development of draft and final versions of the questionnaire.
- To support the review of the questionnaire following the pilot testing of the instrument in selected Member States
The OECS LFS questionnaire was based on the 2013 ICLS set of standards on work and labour statistics. Against this backdrop, there was an urgent need for a comprehensive review of the existing questionnaire to ensure its compliance with the 19th and 20th ICLS standards, adopted in 2013 and 2018 respectively. These new standards will have implications for interpretation of labour statistics, such as the unemployment rate, given the concepts and methods have been revised and will require guidelines for comparing statistics compiled using the older methodology, standards and concepts. The ongoing work on the questionnaire revision was presented to the first meeting of the OECS Council of Ministers for Labour held in May 2019.
The LFS questionnaire incorporates a modular design, meaning a group of questions can be included or excluded from the survey as needed. Two such modules are ones to measure the COVID-19 impact on food insecurity; and the other for measuring unpaid domestic pay (time use). The LFS questionnaire is sectioned into six thematic areas:
- Geographic and household identifiers: preloaded information for the sample selected household – province/district/parish;
- Household demographics: age, sex, education level, relation to head of household for each household member;
- Household sources of livelihood: sources of support (own; employment; family; pension; social programme etc )
- Household agriculture: agriculture activities of household
- Household characteristics: dwelling characteristics; type of dwelling; ownership type;
- Employment and unemployment: for each household member of national working age
It is expected that from 2022 all Member States will be using the harmonised questionnaire, and ideally, will also be undertaking the survey during the same reference period to strengthen the country comparability of the data within the region.
Member States are now using computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) data collection method to undertake surveys, and with funding from the World Bank, and technical guidance from ILO, the LFS questionnaire has been digitalised and programmed to be used in Survey Solutions. Using CAPI improves data quality and speeds up dissemination of the results.
The next steps to support the transition are:
- To pilot the questionnaire to ensure it is technically and structurally ready to be administered;
- To mobilise resources from development partners to support the conduct of the LFS given the impact of COVID-19 on the fiscal revenue;
- Supporting Member States to use a mixed data collection method given the national protocols to stem the spread of COVID-19; and
- produce an LFS Toolkit with resources, tools, templates, guidelines and so on, to support the production and dissemination processes.
This result contributes to the availability of and access to economic data and is aligned to the objectives of the Strategic Priority 3: Join the Data Revolution of the OECS Regional Strategy for Development in Statistics (RSDS). Launched in 2017, the OECS RSDS is the region’s 14-year statistical development master plan to strengthen Member States capacity to meet their obligation for country comparable data and official statistics.