A new £5.5 million national institute is to be launched to ensure that the UK has the technical capability and capacity across academia, research, education and innovation to enable the UK to be a global superpower in science, engineering and the creative industries.
The UK Institute of Technical Skills and Strategy (ITSS) is funded by Research England, which is part of UK Research and Innovation. It is being hosted by the University of Nottingham in partnership with a network of organisations and institutions across UK higher education and research, including Advance HE.
Technical professionals enable research and innovation in our universities and institutes and build, maintain and enable the use of the UK’s research infrastructure. Despite their critical contributions to UK R&D and HE, technical roles have experienced a lack of visibility, recognition and career development. Career pathways and professional development can be poor, and an aging workforce means that large numbers of skilled technicians are retiring.
The new institute will focus on technical skills, roles and careers, and their contributions to the economy and how the technical talent and know-how required to fulfil the government’s ambitions for the UK to become an innovation nation can be delivered.
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, research and innovation, and the growth of the UK economy.
“The UK has a shortage of technicians across all sectors, and there are significant EDI 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.”
Kathryn Harrison-Graves, Executive Director, Membership Innovation and Development at Advance HE, said: “Advance HE is proud to support the creation of the ITSS.
"Technicians play an essential role in the higher education and research sector. Advance HE is proud to be working in partnership with such a strong network of institutions committed to the progression of professional development and recognition opportunities for this important community.”
The full network of partners supporting ITSS are: Gatsby Foundation, Universities UK, Royal Society, Advance HE, NCUB, Science Council, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Biology, CRAC/Vitae, Technical Managers in Universities (TMU), Midlands Engine, John Innes Centre, University of Warwick, Newcastle University, University of York, Midlands Innovation (Aston University, University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, Loughborough University, University of Leicester, University of Warwick), GW4 (University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University, University of Exeter), N8 (University of Liverpool, University of York, University of Leeds, Durham University, University of Sheffield, Lancaster University, University of Manchester, Newcastle University).