Following the recession of 2008, and a long period of stagnation, the UK economy has finally returned to growth and is outpacing most of our European neighbours. However, despite this modest growth and a strong jobs recovery, there is growing concern over our flat-lining productivity.

The figures are stark: Productivity grew at an average of 2.9 per cent over the thirty years from 1988 – 2008 before slumping with the recession. However, unlike the trend following previous downturns, productivity has stagnated for the last seven years. It has remains below the peak reached in 2008 and is now 15 per cent below the pre-crisis trend. After making up ground on fellow developed countries, the productivity gap is starting to open up again.

In response to this challenge, in the autumn of 2015 the Chair of the UKCES, Sir Charlie Mayfield, asked a group of senior business leaders to look in detail at how the productivity gap might be addressed, across major sectors of the economy. Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director, Programmes & Support at BAE Systems agreed as part of this business productivity leadership group to convene a working group to look specifically at how productivity in the manufacturing sector might be improved through more effective employee engagement, looking at the experience of a range of organisations in high end manufacturing, particularly but not exclusively in the aerospace sector. The working group includes members from UKCES, IPA, ADS, TUC, BAE Systems and Airbus.

This report has been compiled with their help and support.

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