The nature of Northern Ireland's productivity gap and some potential policymaking solutions are outlined in a new publication, 'Sub-sectoral Productivity in Northern Ireland'. The booklet, funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland) presents the views of two leading experts on productivity, Dr Chiara Criscuolo and Professor Richard Harris.
The growth of Northern Ireland's economic output has been comparatively strong in recent years. However, using a variety of productivity measures, the country performs poorly when compared with other European countries, the US and Japan. In terms of productivity, since the 1960s, Northern Ireland has consistently underperformed, compared to the UK average, in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) per head of population and, despite recent relative improvements, Northern Ireland's GVA remains some 20 per cent below the UK average. Low labour productivity relative to the rest of the UK is one of the key factors behind Northern Ireland's poor economic prosperity.
Northern Ireland's Programme for Government goal is to halve the private sector productivity gap with the UK by 2015. Recent research has identified a number of sectors with specific productivity issues including agriculture, construction, wholesale distribution, financial and business services, transport, and health and social services.
"Of particular concern is lower productivity in certain key service sectors," argues researcher Professor Richard Harris. "In the support of the transport sector, telecoms, financial intermediation, computer and related business services, and especially other business services, productivity is considerably below the UK average."
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Gross Value Added is the difference between output and intermediate consumption for any given sector/industry. That is the difference between the value of goods and services produced and the cost of raw materials and other inputs that are used up in production. For further details see: www.statistics.gov.uk/about/glossary/economic_terms.asp
2. 'Sub-sectoral Productivity in Northern Ireland' considers the reasons underlying poor productivity performance, outlines several policymaking options, and calls for more data and research in key areas contributing NI's productivity gap.
3. A wide range of participants from government bodies, the public and private sector and academia took part in the one day ESRC Public Policy Seminar and launch event for the booklet, 'Sub-sectoral Productivity in Northern Ireland' held in Belfast on 22 April 2008.
4. The ESRC Public Policy Seminar research briefing 'Sub-sectoral productivity in Nothern Ireland' is funded jointly by the ESRC and the DETI (Northern Ireland). The briefing accompanied a one-day seminar that explored the issue of Northern Ireland's productivity held in Belfast on 22 April 2008.
5. The briefing features presentations by the two seminar speakers Dr Chiara Criscuolo (BSc, MSc, PhD), Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and Professor Richard Harris (BA, MA, PhD), Director of the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) and the Cairncross Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Glasgow (email@example.com).
6. For further information on Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment (Northern Ireland) visit www.detini.gov.uk
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