Press release

£52 million boost for skills and training in UK science sectors

David Willetts announces a £52 million investment in new and emerging science talent.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Science Minister David Willetts will today (8 July 2014) announce a £52 million investment in new and emerging science talent, creating more than 7,800 education and skills opportunities over a 2 year period.

Speaking at a Science Industrial Partnership (SIP) board meeting – a new consortium of around 100 leading science sector employers – the minister will formally announce the group’s success in bidding into the government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot fund (EOP). The new partnership, led by GlaxoSmithKline, will design the vocational training and skills programmes that the life sciences, chemicals and industrial science sectors need to thrive and compete in the global economy.

The partnership will deliver:

  • 1,360 apprenticeships: based on a new, simple employer-owned system delivering work-ready apprentices
  • 240 traineeships: a new work experience programme for young people pursuing science- based careers
  • 150 Industry Degrees: a radical new approach to graduate development, focused on employer skills needs and graduate employability
  • 230 Modular Masters Modules: a new modular route to deliver high tech post-graduate skills in the workplace
  • 5,900 workforce development opportunities: increasing technical and management capability of the workforce
  • STEM careers: a cross-sectoral proposal to attract young people into STEM jobs

University and Science Minister David Willetts said:

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.

The government will be contributing £32.6 million, with £20 million from employers, alongside £31 million in-kind contributions. This will fund a range of ultimately self-sustaining activities expected to improve skills in these sectors.

Welcoming the government support for the SIP initiative, Malcolm Skingle, Director, Academic Liaison, GSK and chair of the SIP board said:

The life sciences sector in the UK continues to evolve at a rapid rate and so it is essential that the next generation of scientists have the skills that both they and business require to be successful in the future. The SIP allows employers to take a leading role in achieving this objective. Ultimately, this initiative will help to preserve the UK’s reputation as a world leader in an extremely competitive area.

Cogent, the expert skills body for the science industries, which is facilitating the SIP, has spent the last 6 months identifying employer demand for the skills programmes. Cogent CEO, Joanna Woolf added:

As the skills body for the sector, Cogent is delighted to be supporting the SIP, which is really focused on job creation, talent development and sector growth. The SIP focuses on new career pathways into industrial science and medical technology careers as well as on the skills in innovation needed right across the sector.

It’s a partnership in every sense of the word, and we’re delighted that so many companies are stepping up to take part.

ABPI Chief Executive Stephen Whitehead said,

The ABPI warmly welcomes the establishment of the new Science Industry Partnership. 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.

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.

Steve Elliott Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association said:

The Science Industry Partnership is a unique opportunity for the industry to address current and future skills challenges identified through the work of the Chemistry Growth Partnership and elsewhere. I would like to thank the government and the companies involved for their commitment to supporting the growth of the UK science industry. By implementing the Science Industry Partnership we will be able to deliver all of the exciting potential of the UK science industries to benefit society as a whole and create a new generation of science workers.

The employers, who have come together to form the new Science Industry Partnership (SIP), are in the second round of winners to successfully bid into the £340 million Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP). This is a competitive fund that invited employers, over 2 rounds, to tell government how they would better use public investment, alongside their own, to invest in the skills of their current and future workforce in order to secure future growth for the UK economy.

Notes to editors:

BIS media contact: Emma Brown: 020 7215 5981

Cogent media contact: Judith Holcroft: 07818 408554

GSK media contact: Kalpesh Joshi: 020 8047 2330

  1. For further information on the Science Industry Partnership including detail of programmes and how to apply, please see the ‘Science Industry Partnership’ website.
  2. Current Science Industry Partnership Board members include:
    • 3M UK plc
    • Amgen Limited
    • Becton Dickinson UK Ltd
    • Eisai Europe Limited
    • Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK Ltd
    • GlaxoSmithKline
    • Green Biologics Ltd
    • Johnson & Johnson Ltd
    • Lotte Chemical UK Ltd
    • Medimmune
    • NHS England
    • Novartis
    • Pfizer UK
    • PolyTherics Ltd
    • Sera Laboratories International Ltd (SLI Ltd)
    • Steel Bars
    • Synergy Health
    • Takeda Cambridge Ltd
    • UCB Celltech
    • Vectura Limited
    • Victrex plc
  3. The employers, who have come together to form the new Science Industry Partnership (SIP), are in the second round of winners to successfully bid into the EOP, following an intensely competitive bidding process.
  4. The Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP) is a £340 million competitive fund that invited employers, over 2 rounds, to tell government how they would better use public investment, alongside their own, to invest in the skills of their current and future workforce in order to grow our economy. It was designed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and is administered by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
  5. During the first 2 years, the Science Industry Partnership intends to:
    • establish a new employer partnership across the science industries (SIP) providing employer ownership and leadership of skills needed for growth, in support of the government’s industrial strategy. Once established, this will be self-sustaining through employer funding. Specific deliverables include:
    • determination of the sector’s current and future skills needs through production of a skills strategy
    • establish an employer board and sub group structure leading the SIP skills programmes and working with stakeholders and partners
    • an accredited provider network, including centres of excellence delivering quality training into the sector
    • an employer owned structure for accrediting individual’s achievement including assessment and recognition through certification (including to the new SIP Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards).
  6. This will use £1,212,468 of EOP grant funding and an employer cash investment of £242,494 and an employer in-kind investment: £1,212,000.

SIP Traineeships

240 young people on a SIP traineeship tailored to support entry into the science sector and providing progression into apprenticeships. This takes the form of a 6 month college / provider based training scheme where young people will be supported by the employer and provider through a mix of provider and work-based learning and experience. Procured from delivery partners and managed by Cogent using £1,213,624 of EOP grant funding, £242,727 of employer cash investment and £645,720 of employer in-kind investment.


1,010 (level 2 and 3) and 350 Higher Level fit-for-purpose apprentices based on tailored employer designed training plans. These SMART apprenticeships are designed around the employer and the job, rather than the qualification. This allows an employer, or a group of employers, to develop the apprenticeship to meet their business needs. SMART apprenticeships will also provide a pathway to professional registration with the relevant professional body. This is an ambitious programme introducing new routes into science jobs for young people (securing entry into occupations not normally populated through the apprentice route). Employers across the science industries (large, small and medium size enterprises) will employ the apprentices and new Apprentice Standards developed through the SIP Trailblazer group will be used. Delivery will be procured from a combination of the science industries Apprenticeship Training Agency, accredited training providers and employers. The programme will be managed and quality assured by Cogent and will use £23,238,222 of EOP grant funding, £10,178,010 of employer cash investment and £28,131,447 of employer in-kind investment.

Industry Degrees and Modular Masters Training

The development of an enhanced Industry Degree programme with a greater focus on work-based learning, designed in collaboration with employers and leading university partners. These will provide employers with access to the next generation of workers through a new vocational degree entry route. 150 individuals will be involved in the pilot of the new programme. Development of a new Modular Masters degree programme in Formulation Science and Technology to meet a gap in the marketplace for growing sector. This will focus on developing skills in formulation which employers have identified as being critical to driving innovation, productivity and growth. 230 modules will be delivered by leading university partners. The development of the programme will be procured from universities and other delivery partners and will be managed by Cogent, and will use £836,205 of EOP grant funding, £1,922,692 of employer cash investment and £875,000 of employer in-kind investment.

Workforce Development

5,900 individuals taking accredited workforce development courses specifically aimed at supporting growth and increasing individual competency. Both are co-investment schemes designed specifically for small and medium sized enterprises and operators and technicians, delivered through an approved provider network and leading to professional recognition. Funding offers a 50% government grant. The programme will be procured from accredited training providers, and programme managed and quality assured by Cogent, using £5,550,812 of EOP grant funding and £7,680,370 of employer cash investment.

STEM Careers

The SIP will create Employer Ambassadors capable of inspiring and informing young people about science careers developing closer links with schools and colleges and encouraging young people to enter science careers. This programme will reach across STEM through strategic partnerships. The programme will be procured from delivery partners and programme managed by Cogent, and will use £561,422 of grant funding, £31,737 of employer cash investment and £540,000 of employer in kind investment.

Published 8 July 2014