29 July 2021
by Andrea Gaini

Strategy to attract world-class talent in R&D revealed

The Government is planning to make the UK the best destination in the world for researchers, making sure that it continues to attract the brightest and best from the UK and from overseas.

researcher's hands
© National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

The recently-revealed R&D People and Culture Strategy builds on all the work already underway to make the UK a desirable place for research and innovation, led by individuals, universities and businesses and funders.

As part of the strategy the Government will review the research funding offer to retain, attract and support the very best researchers, innovators and their teams. A review of youth engagement will also be undertaken to encourage more, and more diverse, young people into research and innovation careers.

Science, Research and Innovation Minister Amanda Solloway says, ‘The incredible work of the UK’s scientists and researchers over the past year in response to the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us how crucial it is to make R&D a compelling and inclusive career path for as many people as possible.

‘This strategy is driven by our vision of a more inclusive, dynamic, productive and sustainable UK R&D sector in which a diversity of people and ideas can thrive to drive economic and societal benefit for the UK.

‘As we build back better by unleashing innovation, it’s vital that we create a research environment that attracts and retains people from all backgrounds so that we can continue making cutting edge discoveries while cementing UK’s status as a science superpower.’

In addition, the Government has made a series of new commitments, including:

  • Developing a New Deal for post-graduate research students, starting later this year with a cross-sectoral consultation led by UKRI;
  • Providing support for flexible, cross-sector training programmes to encourage more movement & collaboration between academia, industry and the charity sector;  and
  • Creating a Good Practice Exchange to develop, test and evaluate ways to ensure the right culture is created within the academic community, including to support and develop talent, tackle bullying and harassment and promote a system in which diversity of people and ideas can thrive.

Developed in collaboration with the sector, including academia, industry and charities with organisations such as Universities UK and GSK, the strategy lays out the challenges that researchers and institutions are facing, including skills shortages in particular disciplines, limited opportunities for career progression and issues of bullying and harassment.

In response, the strategy sets out how government will work with institutions, businesses, funders and charities to drive change in the sector, with new initiatives to encourage more young people into research, broaden career pathways in the sector and look further into the impacts of bureaucracy on researchers.

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Authors

Andrea Gaini