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New business programme for North-West manufacturers will help tackle nation's productivity

BAE employee working

08 November 2016

The pilot of a new 12-month employer-led programme for business professionals commencing in January 2017 will focus on raising productivity in the UK's advanced manufacturing sector – beginning with an emphasis in the North West.

Delivered, co-designed and part-funded by BAE Systems, Siemens, Rolls Royce, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Lancaster University, the ‘Productivity through People’ programme will support leaders of advanced manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in understanding the link between employee engagement, modern working practices and improved productivity.

The unique construct of the programme will encourage the 24 delegates to translate their learning into practical improvements for their businesses. Held at business locations and the University, the programme will showcase world-class manufacturing techniques used by BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls Royce and participating companies and offer coaching, peer support, experiential visits to businesses and on-line resources with academic content delivered by Lancaster University Management School. The aim is to create a network of like-minded and supportive peers – a proven element within many successful business support programmes.

Raising productivity is key for all businesses but since the 2008 financial crash, UK levels of productivity like much of the advanced world, have fallen to low levels. In the eight years since the start of recession, productivity growth has seen a slowdown close to a stop, with only some recent, stuttering, signs of recovery. By the end of 2015, productivity was 14 percent lower than where it would have been had growth continued at the rate the UK had grown used to in the preceding decade.

The theory and practice covered in the ‘Productivity through People’ course is a result of a pan-UK productivity project supported by Government and seven different business groups. The Better Workplace Practices group led by Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director of BAE Systems with the assistance of the Trade Union Congress among others, looked at the power of employee engagement in achieving lasting productivity gains in the advanced manufacturing sector.

Nigel Whitehead announced the new programme during a masterclass on the learnings of the Better Workplace Group which was given to a 100-strong business audience at Lancaster University Management School on 20 October.

Mr Whitehead said: "We look forward to sharing our experience with business leaders. I believe it’s not simply that people are our best asset – ultimately, they are any organisation’s only asset. Engaging employees in the mission and purpose of the company, and really empowering them to do the job as effectively as possible, lies at the heart of successful organisations and sustainable business success."

Ian Gordon, Director of Executive Education at Lancaster University Management School, added: “The advanced manufacturing sector is absolutely critical to the economic prosperity of North West England. We have some of the world’s finest advanced manufacturing and engineering companies based here, which export products across the globe. However, low productivity is well recognised as a threat to all businesses, and this extremely good value programme, which is based on our long-track and successful record of supporting SMEs, provides targeted support to the region’s advanced manufacturing supply chain companies that will help raise productivity and business growth.”

Jesse Norman MP, Ministry for Industry and Energy said: “We are working closely with industry to boost productivity and this new pilot is great news for manufacturers in the North West.

“The UK has some of the most productive businesses in the world, but we know there is more to be done, and this Government is committed to developing a comprehensive Industrial Strategy that will enable companies to prosper and grow.”

Juergen Maier, Chief Executive Officer at Siemens UK said: “Everybody counts, everybody deserves respect and high levels of involvement at every level underpin extremely high levels of performance."

Dr Hamid Mughal OBE, Director of Manufacturing at Rolls-Royce concluded: ”We are delighted to play a key role in sharing our experience in the ‘Productivity through People’ programme being launched today. This is a great opportunity to engage with some of the very best engineering and manufacturing expertise across the UK and develop a shared vision of the manufacturing productivity processes, culture and environment.”

 

Interested businesses can find out more about the ‘Productivity through People’ course by attending a launch event at BAE Systems’ Samlesbury site in Lancashire on 22 November or through www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/ptp.