Productivity back on the agenda in manufacturing

The Australian release of a global manufacturing competitiveness survey has added to the debate on ways to improve productivity.

Deloitte's 2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, reported in Manufacturers' Monthly yesterday, involved a worldwide survey of over 550 CEOs and leaders in the industry. It found Australia's competitiveness dropping a place to 16th overall.

Damon Cantwell, Manufacturing Partner at Deloitte, said that innovation and was the strongest driver of competitiveness, but other factors were worth considering.

There was “a lot of excess capacity in the manufacturing sector at the moment,” he told ABC's The Business.

“It's a bit an overused term, but right sizing of a lot of these individual firms and companies is another productivity driver that we'd be looking to as well.”

Tony Shepherd of the Business Council of Australia suggested that greater cooperation between unions and business was part of the answer.

“Rather than being combative, can the major groupings in the economy get together, find some common ground, and get moving on improving and lifting the productivity of the country?," he asked.

These comments follow last week's widely-reported speech by Innes Willox, CEO of the Australian Industry Group, at the Workforce Conference.

Willox argued that workplace flexibility needed to be examined as an answer to lagging productivity and the high cost of doing business.