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TALENT Policy Commission Asks 12 Questions to Shape Technical Careers

In 2020 Midlands Innovation launched the TALENT programme, the UK's largest investment into learning and development for technicians in higher education and research settings. 

Since then, a panel of experts have been appointed to lead the Policy Commission and the biggest survey of technicians in the UK has been carried out.

The Commission has established 12 key questions to better understand the culture, environment, challenges and opportunities impacting the technical community and the project team are already generating new knowledge and insights on technical skills, roles and careers across UK higher education, research and innovation.

Evidence gathered for the Policy Commission will shape the future role of technicians in higher education and research, influencing how the UK economy recovers from the pandemic.

The UK has a technical workforce of around 30,000-50,000 who play a vital role in research and development – a key growth sector identified by the Government.

Professor Sir John Holman, Chair of the TALENT Policy Commission explained why the Commission is so critical.

“The expertise of the technical community is vital for the success of many higher education research projects which drive innovation. To accelerate investment in research and development we need the skilled support of a technical community, now and in the future,” he said.

“We have established 12 key questions to address as part of our research that will inform proposals which we intend to share with policy makers, industry bodies and universities later in the year.

“Insight has been gathered from over 2000 members of the technical community; we can already see some strong themes emerging around demographics, practice, perception, career pathways and policies.”

The four-year Midlands Innovation TALENT Programme is also committed to upskilling the current technical workforce within the eight research-intensive Midlands Innovation universities.

Kelly Vere, TALENT Project Lead and Director of Technical Skills & Strategy for University of Nottingham also commented.

“The TALENT programme has been running for just over a year and we have established a chair, a panel of experts and a research team to gather evidence for the Policy Commission which will help design a blueprint for career advancement for technical staff,” she said.

“I want to thank the Policy Commissioners who continue to offer strategic direction to the project team, the TALENT researchers who are generating new evidence through a range of methodologies and the dedicated TALENT training team who are focussed on upskilling, inspiring and empowering the technical community within the Midlands Innovation universities.

“So far the training team have delivered 187 training sessions within the Midlands technical community and we’re hosting a Festival of Learning to further boost the expertise and skills of our region’s technical team.

“Furthermore, the biennial  UK Higher Education Technicians Summit established by Midlands Innovation in 2015 will take place in November 2021, with a digital event, HETSLite, taking place online on 23rd June.

“This is a very exciting time for technicians in higher education and research; I look forward to working with our partners to help advance the status and careers of our technical community.”

Download the 12 key questions here: TALENT Policy Commission 12 key questions

TALENT is underpinned by a grant of more than £3 million from the Research England Development Fund. The rest of the funding will be provided by the consortium university members as well as key partners including the Science Council, Technician Commitment, Wellcome Trust, British Geological Survey, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Rolls Royce Plc, Unilever, Thales Alenia Space (TAS), Cobra Biologics and Midlands Engine.