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How Does the UK Close the Skills Gap?

Business, Innovation and Skills
Business, Innovation and Skills.
Image Credit: UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Last week the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network held its conference on ‘UK Manufacturing Needs Nanotechnology - Closing the Skills Gap’. The conference itself provided a good combination of presentations and debate with insightful presentations form industry perspectives. However it was disappointing to learn that the Growth and Innovation Fund, a £100m Investment in Skills to Drive Growth, does not have ring fenced funding for nanotechnology.

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, closed the event with a well briefed speech, however it is difficult to see from his narrative how the UK Government will take action to close the UK Skills Gap without some form of critical and substantial funding.

Dr Paul Reip Intrinsiq Materials Ltd, gave a clear warning that if the UK did not take action then we would run into trouble. Dr Reip discussed his experiences with working in the Japanese nanotechnology business community and highlighted the advances in the education system there. Intrinsiq Materials itself are working on new ink projects and without university skills, the work would not have been realized. This is a company to keep an eye on.

Del Stark from the Institute of Nanotechnology highlighted its educational activities from running CPD accredited vocational courses to distributing CDs to school children. The panel and delegates alike did not know the extent of the Institute’s educational outreach. Del said, “Many people know of the Institute’s activity in exciting FP7 projects and our technology scouting services, but many are not aware of our commitment to education.” Del discussed the upcoming student award for 2012 and stated that the Institute will be running a day for students to encourage entrepreneurialism.

Del made the following comments to close his presentation:

• Encourage today’s findings to be exploited for UK growth
• Welcome projects and funding calls for vocational training (CPD) and youth programmes
• Ensure there are sufficient places for UK students in post graduate courses
• Encourage training for Health and Safety aspects
• Support industry access to university entrepreneurial and tech transfer programmes
• Would like to see political will to set strategy and meet milestones

The conference’s final report will be published soon.

Source: Institute of Nanotechnology /...

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