Technical Roles In HE And Thriving R&D Sector Revealed In National Report

A new report which has generated strategic insight into the role of technicians in academia, research and innovation reveals a bold vision to strengthen the UK’s position in science, engineering and the creative industries.

  • A national report reveals new strategic insight into the UK’s higher education and research technical community 
  • 16 targeted recommendations aim to upskill and sustain the growing workforce, responding to emerging technologies and strengthening the UK’s position in science, engineering and creative industries
  • Engagement in the findings will accelerate growth in emerging sectors and support the UK’s growth and productivity post pandemic


The TALENT Commission, funded by Research England, which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has published new data about skills, roles and careers of the UK’s technical talent and 16 targeted recommendations for the sector. 

These changes call for a broadening of technical career entry routes across vocational and academic pathways, investing in technical careers at all levels, ensuring that technical staff are involved and considered in decision making processes to strengthen and sustain the technical workforce. 

The research highlights the extent to which employers, professional bodies, government and funders would benefit from collaboratively implementing the proposed changes to strengthen technicians’ vital role in teaching, research and development.  

Professor Sir John Holman, Chair of the TALENT Commission said: “The strategic insight has identified a significant opportunity for higher education and research institutes to bolster their research and innovation offering, giving the UK a competitive edge in key sectors. 

“The UK is striving to become a global superpower in science, engineering, and the creative industries. The TALENT Commission sets out a clear vision to help make this happen. This can only be achieved with the right technical capability and capacity across academia, research, education, and innovation. 

“Our research also identified that a proportion of technicians involved in teaching and learning activities are doing so with little recognition or support yet many learning environments heavily rely on the support of technicians.

“I strongly recommend employers, funders, government, professional bodies and technicians to consider the report findings and their role in implementing recommendations. I’m confident that engagement and execution will accelerate growth in emerging sectors and support the UK’s growth and productivity post pandemic.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair for Research England, said: “Research England is delighted to have supported this important work about the often-underplayed role of technicians in academia, research and innovation. 

“We welcome the findings, which align strongly with UKRI’s vision for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally. 

“The recently published consultation on our EDI Strategy sets our ambitions for an inclusive research and innovation system where everyone feels included, is heard and different skills and perspectives are valued. 

“The implementation of these findings across the sector will help deliver on this ambition.”

Kelly Vere MBE, TALENT Project Lead and Director of Technical Skills & Strategy for University of Nottingham commented: “The depth of insight The TALENT Commission has generated provides a strong foundation to empower, upskill and create career opportunities for a UK-wide workforce of around 30,000-50,000. 

“The recommendations offer solutions to strengthen the technical community, ensuring that it is diverse, inclusive, sustainable and fit for purpose, now and in the future. They also ensure skills, roles, and careers will be recognised, respected, aspired to, supported, and developed. 

“It is vital that these recommendations are integrated into and expand on existing UK-wide initiatives like the Technician Commitment to build on the work that has already been done. When the sector starts to think more strategically about the role of technicians, we can unlock even greater research potential.”

Jiteen Ahmed, Head of Technical Services from Aston University added. “Employers who recognise the benefits of implementing these recommendations and engage with their technician community will be in a position to meet their strategic goals and generate an inclusive workplace culture. Involving technicians in decision making and recognising the role they play will unleash their full potential and help to attract and retain the best talent.” 

Read the full report here.