Science Industry Partnership

Skills Strategy

About the SIP Skills Strategy

The Science Industry Partnership (SIP) published its first SIP Skills Strategy, based on a major research exercise into the skills required through to 2025 in order to ensure a globally competitive science industry sector – which includes the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and medical technology industries.

The Strategy contains key recommendations, calling for collaboration between Government, industry and education providers to deliver the skilled workforce the industry needs.

The SIP Skills Strategy was a significant piece of work, over a year in the making, and forecasts the sector’s demand for skilled people out to 2025 – a projection of between 180,000 - 260,000 new scientific staff, many in new technology-based occupations. This forecast includes:

The research identifies the following occupations where appropriately skilled people are in critically short supply:

  • Bioinformaticians, Cheminformaticians & Health Informaticians
  • Computational Scientists
  • Health Economists
  • Formulation Scientists
  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers
  • Process Safety Engineers
  • Technician workforce
  • Toxicology, Systems Biology & Immunology
  • Veterinary physiology and pathology
  • Qualified Persons (QPs) (Pharmaceutical Industry Specific Role)

Roles to monitor where future demand may outstrip supply are:

  • Materials Scientists
  • Microbiologists
  • Chemical Engineers

The final category are those occupations which industry is seeking, but at present it is hard to find people with the full skill set to meet the demands of broadening roles.  The uniting theme around these occupations is the need for multidisciplinary combinations of skills which will allow businesses to take full advantage of emerging technologies:

  • Production and Process Engineers with Bioscience knowledge
  • Wet Lab Scientists with Informatics & Computational Science Capability
  • Scientists with Commercial Awareness

There is also rising demand for a range of cross cutting transferrable skills. This is driven by the adoption of new technologies, coupled with structural industry changes such as more fragmented supply chains, which are altering operating models across the scientific industries. Companies increasingly need to collaborate across organisational boundaries, from sharing the costs and risks of early stage research by sharing knowledge, through to outsourcing parts of their manufacturing capability. Internally there is an increasing requirement for staff to work in multi-disciplinary teams. The cross cutting skills most frequently in demand are:

  • Leadership and management
  • Team working
  • Communication skills
  • Business skills
  • International business awareness
  • Commercial and intellectual property awareness
  • Translational skills
  • Regulatory awareness
  • Quality management
  • Problem solving skills
  • Project management
  • Interdisciplinary skills
  • Computational skills
  • Mathematical and statistical skills

Download the SIP Skills Strategy

The SIP Skills Strategy is  accompanied by an underpinning Evidence Document ‘The Demand for Skills in the UK Science Economy’ which provides a comprehensive assessment of both the forecast scale of workforce demand across the science industries over the next 10 years, and the nature of skills needed in the future, driven by key enabling technologies.

Migration Advisory Committee

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published a full review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), recommending that Standard Occupational Classification code 2112 (biological scientists and biochemists) is included on the list. The report states that “stakeholder evidence suggested a growing demand for this occupation, therefore on balance this occupation should be added to the SOL.” It also references the development of the SIP’s Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy to help understand the sector’s skills needs moving forward.

Full report