22 Jul 2021
by Nimmi Patel

What does the Government’s R&D People and Culture Strategy mean for the tech sector?

The government has published its R&D People and Culture Strategy, delivering on the commitment that was made in the 2020 R&D Roadmap.

When the Government published its R&D Roadmap last year, they committed to creating an R&D People and Culture Strategy. Following consultation with business groups and academia, including techUK, the R&D People and Culture Strategy sets out actions to enable skills and talent to thrive in the UK R&D sector.

The Strategy identifies three priority areas:

  • People: redefining what it means to work in R&D in the 21st Century – valuing all the roles that make it a success and ensuring the UK has the capability and capacity it needs.
  • Culture: co-creating a vision of the culture we want to see within the sector - working together to make lasting change happen so that researchers and innovators with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking can thrive and do their best work here.
  • Talent: renewing the UK's position as a global leader in R&D in attracting, retaining and developing talented people, making sure careers in UK R&D are attractive to talented individuals and teams both domestically and internationally.

techUK welcomes the number of steps Government has already taken to restate the UK’s commitment to science, research and innovation. The Global Talent Visa scheme, reinstatement of post-study work visas (Graduate route), and removal of the Skilled Worker visa cap steps to making the UK a global hub for innovation. These reforms also highlight the Government’s commitment to science, research and innovation and have been valued by the industry.

Tech hiring is currently at its highest level for five years and has surged past pre-pandemic levels. Since February 2021, there have been consistently over 100,000 tech job vacancies per week. Even at the height of the first lockdown, when the economic impacts of the pandemic were being felt across all industries, thousands of jobs requiring digital skills were being advertised – and yet, most of them remain unfilled. The skills gap and the talent gap has widened as shown in techUK’s Fast Forward for Digital jobs report.

While techUK and its members are working together to narrow this gap, the digital skills gap is not unique to the UK, making tech talent in high demand across competitive markets. It is therefore crucial that the UK remains an attractive destination for this talent. That includes creating an immigration system that is quick, efficient, and welcoming.

The UK tech sector’s ability to attract and retain talent relies on businesses being able to be agile and dynamic to plan for the future. techUK’s members are committed to building a strong domestic talent pipeline, but for the UK to remain world leading in fields such as AI and quantum the UK must remain open and attractive to international innovators, investors and the talent that supports that ambition. techUK has made recommendations on how this can be done, by supporting employers, supporting learners and delivering change at scale.

Ultimately, to keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation, we must ensure that the narrative around the UK’s openness is as positive as the policies that underpin it.

techUK welcomes the tangible actions highlighted in the Strategy and looks forward to continuing working with Government to ensure its success and sustainability.

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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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