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Media comment: Short-term productivity matters, but it’s not everything

15 April 2021

Dear Editor, 

I was pleased to read that UK labour productivity increased in 2020 despite dropping earlier in the year. While this is good news for the short-term, we must now play the long game when it comes to the country’s productivity and prosperity. 

If we are to deliver a lasting economic recovery, ensure greater business resilience, and drive sustainable growth in the next 18 months, we must outline a longer-term strategy to tackle structural issues that risk holding the UK back, such as our faltering productivity and widening skills gap. CIMA has been calling for such a long-term approach since the beginning of the pandemic. 

To build back better, we must focus on delivering both short-term actions and long-term proposals designed to invest in people, stimulate business innovation and shift to a greener economy. This includes ensuring that we don’t miss the opportunity to reskill and retrain those who are unable to work and receiving furlough payments so they can bring new skills to the workforce when their companies can operate again; introducing a rebuttable right to retrain to empower workers to request further training and development; increasing the number and range of investment opportunities in SMEs for non-specialist investors such as ordinary savers; proactively supporting businesses to seize new opportunities by creating a Growth Accelerator scheme for SMEs; and investing in green infrastructure supporting a net-zero recovery and future business sustainability.

When it comes to skills and productivity, we will all lose out if we don’t learn how to play the long game. 

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA
Chief Executive — Management Accounting
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants