Productivity Puzzles Episode 9: Can labour shortages help raise productivity?

How do we keep our shelves stocked for Christmas? Can we be sure our favourite restaurant will stay open? Does the NHS have the staff to reduce ever-growing waiting lists? Can productivity growth help to face the challenges of rising labour shortages in the UK economy?

In this episode, we’re taking a deep dive into the issue of an increased shortage of workers in our economy – especially so-called “skilled blue collar workers”. Host Bart van Ark is joined Yael Selfin, a Partner and Chief Economist at KPMG; Anthony Rafferty, Professor in Employment Studies and Managing Director of the Work and Equalities Institute at The University of Manchester; and Tony Venables, Professor of Economics and the Research Director at The Productivity Institute.

Together they’ll discuss if the current labour shortages are something the UK could have been better prepared for – even before the Covid pandemic – and ask if the current problems could actually be the trigger to move to a world of higher wages, better skills and higher productivity.

Productivity Puzzles is sponsored by Capita and brought to you by The Productivity Institute, a research body involving nine academic institutions across the UK, eight Regional Productivity Forums throughout the nation, and a national independent Productivity Commission to advise policy makers at all levels of government.

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About our guests:

Yael Selfin is a Partner and Chief Economist at KPMG in the UK, where she advises clients on the global economic outlook and strategy. Her research looks at the impact major shocks, as well as new technologies, could have on the economy and on individual businesses. She is also a fellow of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, one of TPI’s partner organisations.

Tony Venables is Professor of Economics at The University of Manchester and the Research Director of The Productivity Institute. Tony has also been a professor at Oxford University and at the London School of Economics, as well as Chief Economist at the UK Department for International Development. He’s well known for his research on international trade, spatial economics, and natural resources.

Anthony Rafferty is Professor Employment Studies at Alliance Manchester Business School and Managing Director of its Work and Equalities Institute. His research focuses on labour market inequality and the impact of that on human capital and he has advised the UK government on employment and welfare reform issues.

Catch up on our past episodes here: