The blame for the UK's failure to keep up with its economic rivals in terms of productivity has been laid squarely at the doors of the DTI
The DTI has been blamed for poor productivity in the UK because of its preoccupation with introducing employment regulation rather than driving competitiveness.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) claims the department's contradictory agenda of promoting competitiveness while regulating business undermines its effectiveness.
The DTI has announced that it is employing business guru Michael Porter to help improve the UK's poor productivity through better management, but the IoD claims the department itself is partly to blame.
Richard Wilson, the IoD's business policy director, said the DTI decision to employ Porter would only prove valuable if followed through.
"I hope that Porter's study is not just another scheme which will be abandoned or quietly forgotten in a few years," he said.
Wilson believes the weight of legislation introduced by the department over the past five years has not helped business drive up productivity.
"It was the DTI's intention to introduce a 'light touch' simply to comply with regulations, but I have not seen that to date - the National Minimum Wage guidelines were 112 pages and the Working Time Regulations 96 pages. Employers are bound to have been distracted to some extent," he said.
Andy Westwood, head of policy research at the Work Foundation agrees the DTI has been so focused on improving fairness at work that it has taken its eye off the ball in terms of improving UK competitiveness.
He wants Porter's study to provide sensible recommendations that will be affordable, accessible and relevant for the majority of the UK's employers.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt responded to the criticism.
"We can make a real difference to future business success by working to create fair and efficient markets, a dynamic and highly skilled labour force and through the promotion of science and technology," she said.
By Ben Willmott
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