Over 2000 businesses test ways to improve productivity

30 Aug 2016


Over 2000 businesses have taken part in a series of challenges to test new ways to improve workplace productivity and what they have learnt is reported by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) today.

The businesses were all involved in the UK Futures Programme, an £8.8 million co-investment programme between public and private sectors. Business, universities, local authorities and other partners collaborated in 32 projects to address skills and productivity problems and make improvements to how businesses are run. The projects were based around a series of Productivity Challenges:

• Addressing skill deficiencies in the growing offsite construction industry

• Improving leadership and management through the influence of supply chains and networked organisations

• Improving progression pathways in the retail and hospitality industries

• Enhancing the skills needed to manage and commercialise innovation in the manufacturing sector

• Developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills in small firms and the role of anchor institutions in supporting the development of small firms.

Some of the UK’s leading employers took part in the Programme, for example, Jaguar Land Rover implemented a new way of supporting management development in their supply chain; Skanska led the development of an on-line school for the offsite construction industry and Siemens supported a Newcastle University Business School project which developed business owners in the North East.

Graham Hartley, Managing Director, Siemens Power Generation said:

“The SME community both nationally and locally is key to sustainable economic growth for the region and the UK, and the need to continue to develop the skills base and enhance management skills in this area is vital. As Chair of the Captured steering group, I have seen fantastic benefits for the businesses and managers who have participated. This is something Siemens is keen to support in the long term and we look forward to working with Newcastle University Business School in the future.”

But the big businesses were joined by smaller firms and other organisations all concerned to improve UK productivity including:

• The Civil Engineering Contractors Association which developed a vision of what good management looks like in their sector and are now rolling out training to deliver that vision;

• Robert Woodhead Ltd tried out new ways to improve management skills amongst their supply chain;

• Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant and partners tested toolkits to change how jobs are designed to make them better for staff and for business;

• Swansea University tested learning programmes to improve the management of innovation; and

• Doncaster Council led a public/private partnership to deliver leadership training to local small firms.

Claire Bossward, Doncaster Council, said:

“This project has not only allowed us the freedom to experiment, learn, adapt and evaluate (and the results have been surprising!), it has also strengthened our partnership, benefited business and effected change. We have recognised that within the Council walls we have valuable knowledge and experience that absolutely can work and be delivered in a private sector setting. The blend of commercial versus empathetic styles really added value to the small firm’s experience. The organisations involved in the delivery feel like one organisation, not separate entities, and that’s when you know you are in a true partnership.”

Scott Waddington, Chief Executive of SA Brain & Co Ltd and UKCES Commissioner, concludes:

“I’d like to thank all those businesses that took calculated risks to find new ways to improving business productivity – a really vital issue for all our well-being. We’ve seen some fantastic new learning products and business toolkits from the projects; the formation of new partnerships that can go on to deliver even better things; and UKCES has gathered a huge amount of learning that we are sharing with other businesses and with policy colleagues. The UK Futures Programme has proved to be a really useful way of running projects and I hope others will pick up the guidance we have provided and run with it in their own sectors or localities in future.”

For further information, please contact Hannah Hope on Hannah.hope@ukces.org.uk or Josie Armitage on josie.armitage@ukces.org.uk