News & Views
New National Institute to support Technical Skills and Strategy
Mar 23 2023
“We are delighted to be establishing the UK Institute for Technical Strategy to ensure that we have the technical capability and capacity across the country to realise the UK’s ambitions of being a research and innovation superpower” Kelly Vere
A new £5.5 million national institute that will underpin the UK’s technical capability and capacity across academia, research, education and innovation, is being hosted by the University of Nottingham in partnership with a network of organisations and institutions across UK higher education and research.
The UK Institute of Technical Skills and Strategy (ITSS), funded by UKRI Research England, will focus on skills, roles and careers and how technical talent and know-how is fundamental to how the UK’s ambitions as an innovation nation can be delivered.
Despite their critical contributions to UK R&D and HE infrastructure, technical professionals behind core activities enabling research and innovation in universities and institutes have experienced a lack of visibility, recognition and structured development. Career pathways and professional development (PD) can be poor and an aging workforce means that large numbers of skilled technicians are retiring.
Dr Kelly Vere, Director of Technical Strategy at the University of Nottingham and Programme Director, Technician Commitment (Science Council), who is spearheading the new initiative, said: “We frequently discuss the emerging technologies needed to drive innovation, but rarely do we consider the expert technical skills, roles and careers required to use these technologies. Technical expertise is critical to the success of UK Higher Education (HE), research and innovation, and the growth of the UK economy.
“The UK has a shortage of technicians across all sectors, and there are significant ED&I challenges impacting the current workforce. These factors pose a serious threat to the UK’s innovative strength and global competitiveness."
Building on Initiatives
The new institute builds on two initiatives which have begun to address this challenge and become the catalyst for advancing the landscape and culture for the technical community.
The Gatsby-funded Technician Commitment, which has established recognition of the challenges facing the technical community, started to build a national community of practice and initiated a commitment from more than 110 organisations. The Technician Commitment will be hosted at the new institute upon its inception.
The TALENT programme, awarded by Research England to the Midlands Innovation consortium in 2020, has begun to build sector wide strategic insight into the UK’s HE and research technical skills base through its TALENT Commission. It has also designed, developed and piloted practical interventions to address the challenges highlighted by the Technician Commitment.
The launch of the ITSS, announced at an event in Westminster (March 7), celebrated the impact and progress of the TALENT Commission report, one year on, showcasing how its recommendations are being implemented across the sector.
More information online
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