Regional Productivity Forum – The Yorkshire and The Humber and North East Productivity Challenge

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The Sheffield University Management School recently hosted a forum focused on regional productivity for Yorkshire, Humber, and the North East. Attended by businesses, policymakers, and academics across the region, the forum aimed to lead discussions on enhancing productivity.

The backdrop for such initiatives is the acknowledgement that productivity in the UK lags that of other Western European countries. This concern has prompted the UK Government to address the issue through a National Productivity Week. Notably, regional disparities exist within the UK, with Yorkshire & the Humber standing out as “tenth out of twelve” for productivity performance. The forum provided a platform for diverse stakeholders to strategise and collaborate on addressing these challenges and working towards a more productive future.


The Productivity Commission has arranged eight regional forums dedicated to exploring productivity-related themes. During these events, industry and policy experts participated in panels to discuss the impacts of productivity and strategies for improvement in the respective regions. The panel sessions included a Q&A segment, where business leaders posed questions, expressing a keen interest in understanding the potential government interventions and strategies that could foster enhanced productivity in their areas.


Several pivotal themes emerged as essential for enhancing productivity. Notably, investments in people, ideas, and organisational development were highlighted for their impact, influencing both cultural and societal dimensions. This encompasses the areas of human, knowledge, and organisational capital, often neglected after a company has been established.

Additionally, the significance of leveraging location and promoting collaboration was highlighted, emphasising the importance of understanding a company's strengths and weaknesses in these aspects. The report specified “interregional connectivity as an important challenge” for the region.

The third factor emphasised the importance of focusing on the big picture. Companies can effectively measure their impact and inspire innovation through tangible outcomes by scrutinising productivity within the broader context of societal, environmental, or technological shifts.

In recognising the scope of the productivity spectrum, it becomes apparent that seemingly everyday issues, such as transport links or workplace culture, can significantly influence improvements or challenges within the economy.


Productivity wields a substantial influence on an economy, with many long-term consequences, notably its effects on wage growth, household income, and overall health and life expectancy. Prioritising productivity entails a straightforward approach, starting with an awareness of its profound impact. Moreover, learning from best practices and promoting the adoption of new technologies is pivotal - the quintessential chicken-and-egg scenario of productivity. However, investment is required in all these areas to enable the regions to become more competitive and productive.


  • Review internal practices to understand how we can improve productivity.
  • Discuss productivity when working with clients and what they are doing to improve.

Further Reading

The Productivity Website for Yorkshire & their report.


"Productivity isn’t everything, but, in the long run, it is almost everything" – Paul Krugman


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