Science Industry Partnership

22 Jul 2019

SIP Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy Workshop

In May the SIP held a 2030 Skills Strategy Workshop “Understanding the Skills Needs of the Future Life Sciences Workforce”.

The session was Chaired by Alex Felthouse, Chair of the SIP Futures Group, and attended by over 40 delegates from across the sector. It was aimed at understanding the main drivers behind the future skills needs of the Life Sciences sector and the rich consultation outputs will feed into the final Research Report.

Delegates discussed the emerging technologies which will drive the skills needs of the Life Sciences sector over the next decade and proposed solutions to ensure to ensure that there is sufficient quality training provision available to Life Sciences employers to fulfil their future requirements

Key issues we need to resolve

  • Low level of computing skills being developed within education, particularly at younger years;
  • Very strong competition for digital skills from other sectors, often paying higher salaries e.g. tech sector, finance;
  • Lack of awareness of careers or poor perception of the Life Sciences industry
  • Loss of expertise and skills with return of EU nationals to their home countries;
  • Requirement for an equal emphasis on manufacturing skills;
  • Retaining the brightest talent and ability to recruit from the global talent pool;
  • Small apprenticeship cohort means providers can’t always deliver
  • Localised gaps in provision stymie sector pipeline
  • Knock on effect as apprenticeships should be an effective route for diversifying workforce;
  • Lack of collaboration between employers/providers currently delivering science apprenticeships

How these issues might be resolved…

  • Mandatory computer science studies from younger age to GCSE
  • Universities/training providers to include data science within science courses
  • Stronger voice for employers in curriculum design
  • Better showcasing of career options into sector, particularly re digital skills
  • Leveraging sector benefit to human health to help improve attractiveness
  • Align apprenticeships with existing professional standards – e.g. kite-marking for degree courses/apprenticeship providers
  • More support available to smaller employers to supervise, support and develop apprentices
  • More support for SMEs to overcome barriers/hidden costs of apprenticeships

Widespread use of the apprenticeship model for re-training/upskilling

The Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy will be an employer-led piece of work produced by the SIP Futures Group – a collaboration between SIP employers, Office for Life Sciences (OLS), Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and BioIndustry Association (BIA).

 The in-depth quantitative analysis is now underway which is being undertaken by the research team at Cogent Skills.  From this, a comprehensive stock-take of the current position of the Life Sciences workforce will be produced, including a breakdown of a range of characteristics including: age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, qualifications and role level. Using a bespoke workforce model, which has been produced specifically for this project, the future requirement of skilled individuals into the sector will be projected in several growth scenarios through to 2030.

 Working with Steer Economic Development, the qualitative and quantitative evidence base which has been gathered will be shaped into a strategic framework which will underpin the 2030 strategy report and enable the development of key recommendations which the industry sees as vital to ensure its future skills needs are achieved.