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National report reveals opportunities for growth in HE and research sector

National Report Reveals Opportunities for Growth in HE and Research Sector

The Midlands Innovation TALENT programme has published a national report detailing strategic insights into the UK’s technical community, setting out a bold vision to strengthen the UK’s position in science, engineering and the creative industries.

The TALENT Commission funded by UKRI - Research England reveals the crucial role of technical skills in academia, research and innovation and outlines recommendations for the higher education and research sector.

New data about skills, roles and careers of the UK’s technical talent has informed 16 targeted recommendations for employers, government, policy makers, funders, technicians, professional bodies and learned societies.

The changes call for a broadening of technical career entry routes across vocational and academic pathways, greater investment in technical careers at all levels, ensuring that technical staff are involved and considered in strategic decision-making processes to strengthen and sustain the technical workforce.

The research highlights the extent to which employers, professional bodies, government and funders would benefit from collaboratively implementing the proposed changes to strengthen technicians’ vital role in teaching, research and development. 

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester and a TALENT Commissioner said: “I wholeheartedly welcome the report findings that highlight a significant opportunity for higher education and research institutes to bolster their research and innovation offering.

“As one of the eight Midlands Innovation universities leading the TALENT programme and championing the role of technicians within the partnership and beyond, we continue to enhance learning environments and student experience with support from our valued technicians and deliver research that has real impact, thanks to their support.

“This report is a call to action; I encourage other institutions to engage with, disseminate and implement the recommendations within their organisations.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair for Research England, said: “Research England is delighted to have supported this important work about the often-underplayed role of technicians in academia, research and innovation.

“We welcome the findings, which align strongly with UKRI’s vision for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally.

“The recently published consultation on our EDI Strategy sets our ambitions for an inclusive research and innovation system where everyone feels included, is heard and different skills and perspectives are valued.

“The implementation of these findings across the sector will help deliver on this ambition.”

Dr Helen Turner, Director for Midlands Innovation and Co-Lead for the TALENT programme said: “This report is the culmination of almost two years’ worth of in-depth research by the TALENT team and Midlands Innovation partners. It provides a strong foundation to empower, upskill and create career opportunities for a UK-wide workforce of around 30,000-50,000.

“Midlands Innovation has been championing the role of technicians for several years; establishing Higher Education Technicians Summit - the UK’s only national biennale event dedicated to technicians - and the acclaimed Papin Prizes which celebrates the achievements and successes of technicians in higher education and research.

“The TALENT Commission further supports this ambition and offers a blueprint for the sector to support the UK’s vision to become a global superpower in science, engineering, and the creative industries.”

Jiteen Ahmed, Head of Technical Services from Aston University added.

“Employers who recognise the benefits of implementing these recommendations and engage with their technician community will be in a position to meet their strategic goals and generate an inclusive workplace culture. Involving technicians in decision making and recognising the role they play will unleash their full potential and help to attract and retain the best talent.”

Read the full report and recommendations 

Published 1 February 2022