07 Nov 2022
by Nimmi Patel

People and skills in UK science, technology, engineering and mathematics inquiry

techUK has responded to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into people and skills in STEM.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has been conducting an inquiry into people and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the UK. The inquiry has been considering whether the UK has a sufficiently skilled workforce to become a “science and technology superpower”, and what policies can be done to develop and retain skills in the UK workforce.

techUK responded to the call for evidence and highlighted the need for government to:

Reduce costs and time of the immigration system to allow businesses to access the global talent they need to grow

At present, the cost of the new points-based immigration system is compounding the struggles of UK businesses to recruit the digital skills they need, particularly higher-level technical digital skills. For tech SMEs, access to talent is a significant concern due to a combination of extreme competition for domestic talent and difficulty bearing the costs and administrative burdens of recruiting talent from abroad. The costs of the immigration system have discouraged businesses. There is often reluctant acceptance of the skyrocketing prices of visas as they want to hire international talent, but this is contingent on the size of the company.

Create a policy framework to support short modular digital skills courses that focus on job readiness

techUK and TechSkills are leading the debate on how government and industry can work together to champion and expand the development and take up of short modular courses, including bootcamps. They have been proven to be a flexible, affordable, and effective route for learners to acquire productive digital skills that are valued by employers.

By helping fund bite-sized industry-led training designed to fit around the learner and their life, we can address some of the biggest barriers to training and skilling. Remote learning also increases accessibility and with increasing availability of online and virtual digital skills training, organisations are able to build a more inclusive workforce with up-to-date digital skills.

Replicate AI Masters conversion courses to other digital sub-sectors

techUK has welcomed joint government-industry collaborations to drive up AI skills in the UK. The UK has had success in the creation of AI Masters conversion courses which enable graduates to do further study courses in the field even if their undergraduate course is not directly related. Supported by techUK members including Deepmind, QuantumBlack, Cisco, BAE Systems, Infosys, and Accenture, this programme has enabled 2,500 people to develop new digital skills or retrain to help find new employment in the UK’s cutting-edge AI and data science sectors.

As techUK spotlighted in it's recent Quantum report, UK government could help deliver further training opportunities, working to develop post-graduate certificates to fill key missing gaps; and education programs that accelerate cross-disciplinary programs and bridge engineering, science, business, and social sciences to develop graduates with an understanding of the huge potential of technologies such as quantum from a technological and business perspective. Creating a steady pipeline of tech talent is imperative to the UK remaining a science and tech superpower and these partnerships are needed to develop the next generation of tech talent.


Nimmi Patel

Nimmi Patel

Head of Skills, Talent & Diversity, techUK

Nimmi Patel is the Head of Skills, Talent and Diversity at techUK.

She works on all things skills, education, and future of work policy, focusing on upskilling and retraining. Nimmi is also an Advisory Board member of Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (digit). The Centre research aims to increase understanding of how digital technologies are changing work and the implications for employers, workers, job seekers and governments. She is also a member of Chatham House's Common Futures Conversations

Prior to joining the team, she worked for the UK Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party, and holds a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester and holds an MA Strategic Communications at King’s College London.

[email protected]

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