National Institute of Technical Skills and Strategy to support UK research and innovation launched
The UK is set to welcome a new £5.5 million national institute, with the aim of augmenting the country’s technical capability and capacity across academia, research, education, and innovation. The initiative seeks to enable the UK to become a global powerhouse in science, engineering, and creative industries.
The new institute will focus on technical skills, roles, and careers; their contributions to the economy; and how the technical talent and knowledge required to fulfil the government’s ambitions for the UK to become an innovation hub can be delivered.
It will build on two initiatives: the Technician Commitment, which aims to increase the visibility, recognition, career development, and sustainability of technical skills, roles, and careers; and the TALENT programme, which is intended to build sector-wide strategic insight into the UK’s higher education, research, and technical skills base.
Technical expertise is critical to the success of HE, research and innovation, and the growth of the UK economy
– Dr Kelly Vere, Director of Technical Strategy at the University of Nottingham
Dr Ian Hancox, Director of Research Technology and Technical Strategy at the University of Warwick and Co-Director of ITSS, said: “Technicians are critical in enabling research and innovation across UK Higher Education (HE), from maintaining our infrastructure to developing cutting-edge analytical technologies. This investment in the Institute of Technical Skills & Strategy is vitally important for driving forward knowledge, sustainability, and visibility of our technical workforce, building on the excellent work of both the Technician Commitment and TALENT.”
Dr Kelly Vere, Director of Technical Strategy at the University of Nottingham, the Science Council’s Technician Commitment Programme Director, and Director of ITSS, 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 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 (equity, diversity, and inclusion) challenges impacting the current workforce. These factors pose a serious threat to the UK’s innovative strength and global competitiveness. 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.”
ITSS will form four new hubs focused on key areas – research, policy, practice and engagement – and will become the source of sector expertise in these spheres.
I look forward to seeing the impact the ITSS will have for technicians nationally and across sectors – from museum archivists, right through to space technologists
– Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “Technical skills and technicians’ roles are an essential element of the UK research and innovation system. As such, I’m pleased that Research England funding is supporting the new UK Institute of Technical Skills and Strategy.
“The institute will enhance the skills base for technicians, help to raise the visibility of their vital contribution to UK research and innovation, support their career development, and tackle a shortage of technicians. I look forward to seeing the impact the ITSS will have for technicians nationally and across sectors – from museum archivists, right through to space technologists.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced his desire to put education, science, skills and innovation at the heart of his political agenda. George Freeman, Minister of State at the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “We are funding the Institute of Technical Skills and Strategy to ensure that we continue to have the necessary technical expertise and capabilities to excel across research, education, and innovation today, while also nurturing the next generation of talent to drive the science, technology & innovation of tomorrow.
“Opening up high-skilled jobs in thriving sectors like science, engineering and creative industries is key to both growth for our economic prosperity and widening access to opportunities for all across the UK.”