TALENT Policy Commission calls for views on technical staff needed to deliver UK R&D ambitions

Date posted: March 2, 2021
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a technician looks into a microscope

The UK’s first policy commission investigating the national shortage and skills gaps in the higher education technical community has opened a call for views and evidence from the sector to help shape a national set of recommendations.

Higher education and research technicians, who often work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the highest possible quality of teaching and research can be delivered, are pivotal to achieving the Government’s aspirations of increasing investment in research and development. However, according to the Royal Society, data suggests the country will not have enough technicians to deliver the uplift required.

The TALENT Policy Commission, established in 2020, is investigating the sector’s future need for technical talent, exploring government policy implications and the impact of increasing focus on collaboration with industry. The commission will compile a range of recommendations for the sector which it will publish in a national report that will provide a new understanding of the UK’s technical skills needs of the future.

As part of the evidence-gathering process, earlier this month technicians were invited to complete a once-in-a-generation survey so the commission could directly hear from them about their experiences and to better understand their needs.

The policy commission is part of the £4.99M TALENT programme, a UK-wide project led by Midlands Innovation and part-funded by Midlands Engine to advance recognition and opportunity for the technical community in higher education and research. Other funders include the Research England Development Fund, the Midlands Innovation consortium university members, the Science Council, Technician Commitment, Wellcome Trust, British Geological Survey, Rolls Royce plc and Unilever.

Professor Sir John Holman, Chair of the TALENT Policy Commission, said:

“The findings of the Royal Society’s report are timely and bring to the fore the issues that the Policy Commission has identified as needing to be addressed nationally. That is why the timing of this, the UK’s first technician focused policy commission, is so important.

“We welcome submissions of views and evidence from a wide range of respondents including organisations in higher education and research which employ technicians including from the private, public and non-profit sectors; organisations that work with, or represent current or future technicians; individuals who are or were previously technicians; and other informal groups”.

The deadline for organisations and individuals submitting views and evidence is 23 April 2021.

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