Productivity is something of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s talking about it — or rather, the lack of it. We’ve all heard how the UK lags behind the other G7 nations, and even that the French could match our productivity levels working only four days a week. But for all the talk, is anything being done?
On 30 November, The Spectator hosted a discussion, sponsored by BAE Systems, which analysed Britain’s stagnating productivity (for full details visit spectator.co.uk/ProsperityBritain). Many of the event’s topics are reflected in this supplement. Richard Heys, deputy chief economist at the Office for National Statistics, asks how we could improve national productivity; Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, says we need to invest in training; Matthew Lynn asks if artificial intelligence could hold the key to improving our work rate.
Meanwhile, Ross Clark wonders whether we are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective. He is suspicious of comparing statistics between nations. And, anyway, the way we work has changed from the days of ‘clocking in’ at 9 and off at 5 — so how can we measure how productive we, as a nation, really are?