Skills and Productivity Commission – Business and Professional Services Sector Deep dive

This research was commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority for the Skills and Productivity Commission, as part of developing a local Industrial Strategy. 

The Productivity & Skills Commission has been set the task of understanding the true extent of the productivity challenge in the West Midlands, identifying the component causes and making recommendations to address the issues identified. Within the Commission, sector representatives lead the workstreams relating to the identification of productivity challenges, opportunities and recommendations, and this report covers the output of this activity for the BPFS sector.

The aim was to create an evidence-based strategy to set future industrial and regional strategy to grow the BPFS Sector. The research aims to investigate the limiting factors to inclusive growth locally, and ways in which providers of professional and business services can potentially help address these.


More specifically, the deep-dive team were tasked with understanding sectoral contribution to key economic indicators and more specifically, answering the following questions:

  • Does improving the sector or changing the sector improve performance across the whole economy and other sectors?
  • Which parts of the sector need investment and what type of investment?
  • How do we lock in the companies to the region and ensure the economic benefits remain here i.e. HQ effects, employment effects?
  • What interventions have been delivered elsewhere in the sector and what other best practice can we hook into to identify potential opportunities for the sector?
  • Can we create real (or better) estimates of productivity?

These research questions guided activity that broadly followed a mixed-methods approach involving: sector definition; desk based research; employer engagement; activity mapping and modelling of potential impact before arriving at a set of recommendations back to the Leadership Group of the Productivity & Skills Commission and ultimately WMCA for consideration. 

The team

Project collaborators

Funder/client: WMCA
Timescale: Dec 2017 - June 2018


Rebecca RileyProject lead: Rebecca Riley
Tel: 0121 414 4366



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