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The UK's productivity is still lagging some way behind the levels seen before the global financial crisis of 2008, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest figures from the ONS show that productivity, measured by output per hour, grew just 0.5% in the first three months of the year, compared with the final three months of 2015.

By sector, manufacturing enjoyed the greatest increase in output per hour at 0.7%. However, compared with the first quarter last year, it was down 1.5%. The services sector saw output rise 0.5% over the quarter and 1.1% over the year.

The Open University said the latest report indicates that nationwide measures being taken to solve the so-called ‘productivity puzzle’ are failing to make the wholesale improvements that will reset the UK’s productivity levels.

Steve Hill, director of external engagement at The Open University, said: “Most leaders would easily agree that employees are the biggest asset their company has, with the most potential to transform their business outcomes. Yet it’s often the case that larger businesses are relying on technology to improve their output levels. Instead it’s Britain’s smaller companies who are aware that people will always be key to productivity.

“Despite their recognition of its value, I hear from a lot of smaller firms who express that investing in training can still represent a difficult path. What’s most important moving forward is that these businesses understand how to access the training they need in a form that will contribute to their overall productivity.

“Advancements in educational technologies have transformed the value of training for small businesses. These firms often find the time commitment involved in traditional forms of training simply does not fit with their business set-up. The flexibility of online and mobile learning has already significantly altered the structure of training so that it can fit with different organisational needs."