The government announced today that it is granting £52m to the UK science sectors in order to boost skills and trading.
The funding has been given to the Science Industrial Partnership, which is led by GlaxoSmithKline and aims to develop vocational training and skills programmes for life sciences, chemicals and industrial science sectors.
The hope is that this will help them to compete in a global economy by creating more than 7,800 education and skills opportunities over a two-year period. Opportunities will span apprenticeships, traineeships, degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, believes the step is necessary for driving the industry forward. “This partnership will ensure the UK maintains a highly skilled workforce in order to have the capabilities to compete and succeed in the global arena,” he said.
“The UK’s traditional strength in science has been eroding; science graduates often lack skills useful to industrial research, particularly practical skills, so the focus on high quality training through apprenticeships and other programmes is welcomed. The government has been a real champion for science but if the UK economy, especially the research based pharmaceutical industry, is going to flourish then we need to work more intensively with government in partnerships such as this to equip the next generation with the skills to succeed.”
The partnership secured the funding from the government's £340m Employer Ownership Pilot: a competitive fund that invites employers to tell the government how they would use public investment to enhance the skills of their current and future workforce in order to secure future growth for the UK economy.
The government will be contributing £32.6m, with £20m from employers, alongside £31m in-kind contributions. This will fund a range of ultimately self-sustaining activities expected to improve skills in these sectors.
Science minister David Willetts commented: “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."