A new policy commission has been established to support and develop technicians who work in the higher education and research sector. Professor Helen Atkinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing at Cranfield University, is among the leading experts in the field who are part of the new TALENT Commission.

Thirty thousand technicians in the sector play a key role in research and development, and have been supporting the UK’s scientific response to COVID-19. The TALENT Policy Commission forms part of the £4.99M TALENT programme, a project led by Midlands Innovation to advance recognition and opportunity for the technical community in higher education and research.

Passionate about promoting engineering roles at all levels and developing the technicians of the future, Professor Atkinson said: “Developing technician talent is critical to universities and close to my heart. Technicians have a vital role in research and I am delighted to be supporting them by being involved in the Talent Commission.”

The Commission will investigate the sector’s future need for technical talent, exploring government policy implications and the impact of an increasing focus on collaboration with industry, before compiling a range of recommendations for the sector which it will publish in a national report that will provide new understanding on the UK’s technical skills needs of the future.

Chair of Midlands Innovation and Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, Professor Alec Cameron, said: “There is a national shortage of technicians who are often highly skilled specialists, and this shortage could dampen the country’s ability to help economic recovery through undertaking world-leading R&D, and, in the longer term, threaten to derail the Government’s Industrial Strategy aim to raise UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP.

“The commission will thoroughly analyse the sector’s future need for technical talent, government policy implications and the impact of increasing focus on collaboration with business and other researchers.”

For more information on the Commission including a full list of members, go to Midlands Innovation.