Green Paper highlights key issues and solutions for poor productivity in Northern Ireland

  • A new Green Paper ‘Northern Ireland’s Productivity Challenge: Exploring the issues’ has been published today (Thursday 18 November).

    The paper shows there are several reasons for Northern Ireland’s productivity gap, and highlights to policymakers, the business community, and the wider public that there are key issues that must be addressed if Northern Ireland’s economic performance is to be improved.

    The research was led by academics from Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with the Northern Ireland Productivity Forum.

    John Turner, Professor of Finance and Financial History at Queen’s Management School, and Northern Ireland Productivity Forum Lead, explains: “Northern Ireland is the poorest performing UK region for productivity, almost 20% below the UK level. Increasing productivity is key to improving Northern Ireland’s prosperity, with low productivity identified as central to explaining the region’s persistently poor economic performance.”

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    Mr. Turner also added: “As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial now more than ever that we work to increase productivity which is key to raising people’s living standards.”

    The report highlights Northern Ireland’s strengths include its ability to tailor economic policy through devolved powers, and a relatively younger population. Weaknesses include the areas where Northern Ireland possesses deficiencies to the rest of the UK, particularly in skills and investment.

    A number of other concerns were also highlighted in the report. The report showed that the productivity gap is not evenly spread within Northern Ireland: most areas perform poorly, with the highest levels of productivity found in Belfast and Mid Ulster.

    Belfast also has the smallest productivity gap with only 6% below the UK level, while Derry City and Strabane have the largest gap, at 23% below the UK level.

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    The researchers state that there are opportunities for the productivity gap to be closed through interventions by policy and business, including the digitalisation of the economy, growth of the knowledge economy, and the development of green technologies within manufacturing.

    Dr David Jordan, Research Fellow in Economics at Queen’s Management School and researcher on the Northern Ireland Productivity Forum, said: “A greater understanding is needed by both policymakers and business of what the drivers of this underperformance are, why this is the case, and the role of policy and political institutions in shaping this. Identifying how to improve skills, alongside ways to attract firms and industries which can take advantage of a more highly skilled workforce, are key issues which must be addressed if Northern Ireland’s economic performance is to be improved.”

    The research was conducted in partnership with the Productivity Institute (TPI), based at the University of Manchester, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

    Source: Written from press release. 

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    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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