Brits are less productive because it is too hard to build stuff.
A point on transport links. I live in the South West which has fast and reliable trains to London but a season ticket from Swindon to Paddington (55 mins) is over £11k a year, making it unaffordable to all but high earners.
Agree entirely on apprenticeship levy - the German system is based on employers running it, not the education system (suspect there is a definition effect here in how trainees are counted if German figures for “on the job” training are low)
Excellent - well said. Lack of investment in infrastructure - road and rail (particularly East-West rail links from Norwich and Ipswich to Cambridge /Oxford/Slough) and public transport and housing - and offshore wind farms and onshore solar farms and the network connectivity to support both - is holding back the East of England. It has been for years. Tories have been promising to fix this for 13 years - but practically no serious progress made. Shameful number of missed opportunities.
Agree with much of this, but not the premise that lurks behind your housing supply solution. On standard theory the fact that there's no difference in AHC incomes in London versus elsewhere is a feature of land, not a bug that can be fixed. Land (largely) captures the urban surplus and it's therefore inevitable that the cost of building a house is much less than the cost of the property. As you build and boost agglomeration in a city, productivity rises and land values follow. So yes, by all means build in cities to boost agglomeration, but you can't change AHC incomes that way.
The comparison you mention between Birmingham and Lyon relates to two observations I'v seen made elsewhere:
1. UK has smallest floor space per resident in Europe
2. UK NIMBYs perceive that the countryside is being concreted over more so than other European countries.
Both could be true (yes i'm, not sure about 2 but lets ride that train) only if the UK has the worst height restrictions on residential properties. Abolish the regulations on height or just devolve the regulations to LAs and job done.