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Business Leaders and Academics to Address Wales’ Productivity Gap

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Cardiff University academics are working with leaders from across business to understand Wales’ productivity gap.

The Wales Productivity Forum, coordinated by Professor Andrew Henley of Cardiff Business School, is made up of key figures in industry, research and policy. The Forum has been set up as part of the work of the Productivity Institute, a new £32m investment from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Productivity measures the value created by people when they work. Higher productivity means better managed and more innovative businesses, more effective supply chains and better use of people’s skills and talents. It can lead to better jobs, a better quality of life and the country becoming more prosperous on a person-by-person basis. Wales has a persistent productivity gap compared with the rest of the UK, and productivity growth across the UK has stalled over the past decade.

Over the course of the next year, the Wales Productivity Forum will meet to explore how Wales could improve its productivity. A forthcoming green paper will set out the key challenges facing businesses and for those who make policy to support business.

Professor Andrew Henley said:

“I’m delighted to be supporting the Wales Productivity Forum, which brings together voices from across business, policy and academia. We’ll work together to investigate the issues that are affecting productivity in all parts of Wales. Our aim is to offer practical solutions which will help the Welsh economy as it recovers from the shock of COVID-19. A focus on the key drivers of productivity is vital if we are to improve the wellbeing and prosperity of those who live here.”

The Wales Productivity Forum is one of eight regional forums across the UK and part of the Productivity Institute, a £32m project, led from the Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester, which brings together experts to understand, measure and enable improvements in productivity.

Chaired by Robert Lloyd Griffiths OBE, National Director for the Institute of Directors in Wales, the Forum met virtually for the first time in January and is holding its second meeting this month to start shaping its work and consider the productivity challenges across Wales.

Mr Griffiths said:

“Higher productivity is key to unlocking our economic potential with better managed and more innovative businesses. This Forum will bring real value with a high calibre of discussion and action that will have a significant impact on the economic debate as we seek to rebuild and re-purpose our economy over the coming months and years.

“As someone who believes passionately in creating opportunity for all and making Wales a better place, I’m delighted to Chair the new forum and excited to be working alongside such talented and committed business leaders and academics to make this happen. We’ve got the will, now it’s up to us to find the way.”

Cynthia Ogbonna, former Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, added:

“I’m pleased to be working with a multi-talented and diverse team looking at the factors that account for the productivity gap in Wales. Having worked in senior positions in manufacturing and transportation sectors in Wales, I’m aware of the impacts of low productivity not only on overall organisational financial performance but also on employee pay, well-being, skills and future distinctive competencies.

“I believe this project will provide some practical solutions and highlight key actions that can be taken to improve the skill levels in the manufacturing and other sectors in Wales in ways that will contribute to our long-term sustainability.”

The Productivity Institute is funded by the ESRC as part of its largest single investment into social sciences research. ESRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, which is principally funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.