£52m boost for skills and training in UK science sectors

Science Minister David Willetts will today announce a £52 million investment in new and emerging science talent.

The investment is set to create more than 7,800 education and skills opportunities over a two-year period.

Speaking at a Science Industrial Partnership (SIP) board meeting – a new consortium of around 100 leading science sector employers – the Minister will formally announce the group’s success in bidding into the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot fund (EOP).

The new Partnership, led by GlaxoSmithKline, will design the vocational training and skills programmes that the life sciences, chemicals and industrial science sectors need to thrive and compete in the global economy.

The Partnership is poised to deliver:

  • 1,360 apprenticeships:  Based on a new, simple employer-owned system delivering work-ready apprentices
  • 240 Traineeships: A new work experience programme for young people pursuing a science- based careers
  • 150 Industry Degrees: A radical new approach to graduate development, focused on employer skills needs and graduate employability
  • 230 Modular Masters Modules: A new modular route to deliver high tech post-graduate skills in the workplace
  • 5,900 Workforce Development opportunities: Increasing technical and management capability of the workforce
  • STEM Careers: A cross-sectoral proposal to attract young people into STEM jobs

University and Science Minister David Willetts said: “The science based industries are critical to our future prosperity – and higher skills are the key driver of their competitiveness.  Our investment will help the industry to take the lead investing in the skills they need.”

The Government will be contributing £32.6 million, with £20 million from employers, alongside £31 million in-kind contributions. This will fund a range of ultimately self-sustaining activities expected to improve skills in these sectors.

Welcoming the Government support for the SIP initiative, Malcolm Skingle, director, academic liaison, GSK and chair of the SIP board said: “The life sciences sector in the UK continues to evolve at a rapid rate and so it is essential that the next generation of scientists have the skills that both they and business require to be successful in the future.

The SIP allows employers to take a leading role in achieving this objective. Ultimately, this initiative will help to preserve the UK’s reputation as a world leader in an extremely competitive area.”

Cogent, the expert skills body for the science industries, which is facilitating the SIP, has spent the past six months identifying employer demand for the skills programmes.

Cogent CEO, Joanna Woolf added: “As the skills body for the Sector, Cogent is delighted to be supporting the SIP, which is really focused on job creation, talent development and sector growth.  The SIP focuses on new career pathways into industrial science and medical technology careers as well as on the skills in innovation needed right across the sector.

“It’s a partnership in every sense of the word, and we’re delighted that so many companies are stepping up to take part.”

The employers, who have come together to form the new Science Industry Partnership (SIP), are in the second round of winners to successfully bid into the £340 million Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP). This is a competitive fund that invited employers, over two rounds, to tell government how they would better use public investment, alongside their own, to invest in the skills of their current and future workforce in order to secure future growth for the UK economy.