Sheffield Business Forum launched to improve productivity across Yorkshire, Humberside and North East

  • Sheffield has launched one of eight Regional Productivity Forums to lead work to identify key bottlenecks and develop practical ways to improve productivity in the region
  • The Productivity Institute’s Regional Forums will work to better understand and address the region’s issues of productivity and improve the UK’s overall performance
  • The forum identified grass root solutions in education systems and building an inclusive and strong future pipeline of appropriate skills and talent as key to long term productivity.

    The University of Sheffield has launched a new regional business forum which will work to better understand and address the region’s productivity.

    The forum is part of the £32 million Productivity Institute funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and one of eight Regional Productivity Forums launched across the UK. Each will inform and shape the development and implementation of the Institute’s research agenda and practical business interventions.

    The forum at Sheffield will bring together representatives from the Yorkshire, Humberside and North East region’s key sectors; including manufacturing, digital and retail as well as from the public sector and academia.

    The majority of the Institute’s research activities and outputs will be developed in collaboration, and in some instances through co-production, with business and policy users.

    Chaired by Sarah Tulip, Head of Digital Transformation at technology consultancy BJSS, members of the Sheffield-led Regional Productivity Forum met virtually for the first time in Q1 2021; to start shaping its work and consider the highly evident productivity issues across Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East of England.

    One of the Forum’s first outputs will be a ‘Regional Productivity Insights Paper’ to provide a framework for its work. Key themes that emerged from the discussions included the importance of grass root solutions in education systems and building an inclusive and strong future pipeline of appropriate skills and talent as key to long term productivity.

    Yorkshire, Humberside and North East Forum lead Philip McCann, Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at Sheffield University Management School, said: “I am delighted that we have such a high-powered and broad based group of representatives from the private sector and the public sector across Yorkshire and Humber and the North East.

    “Productivity growth has been very weak in these regions for a long time so it is important that we work as a team to identify the key bottlenecks, practical ways to move forward effectively, and the appropriate policy priorities which will work for the regions east of the Pennines in the context of the broader national productivity challenges.”

    Chair Sarah Tulip said: “Our first meeting was a diverse collection of thought, experience and opinion which offered real representation of education, public and private sector, coming together to both ask and answer important questions in order to move the region forward from where it has been previously held back. I look forward to pushing forward and tackling these challenges with this fantastic group of humans.”

    The Productivity Institute Research Director, Professor Tony Venables, said: “Good research requires going beyond the national aggregates, to understand the issues faced by the regions and devolved nations, and the challenges and opportunities that they face. This is particularly so as our research seeks to provide policy relevant and practical proposals for raising productivity and economic performance in firms, regions, and for society as a whole. The Regional Productivity Forums are essential in enabling this two way flow of knowledge and ideas, and I’m delighted that they have made such a strong start in their work.”

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