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Business and innovation

Workforce Skills Project

Understanding the demand for physics-related skills across the economy, and how it will evolve, is a key part of ensuring the UK and Ireland benefit from the next industrial revolution.


One of the three challenges of our strategy, Unlocking the Future, is the unlocking of capability in the UK and Ireland, in order to fully benefit from the new industrial age.

Skills have a vital role to play in meeting this challenge. When we talk about unlocking capability within the UK and Ireland, a big part of this means ensuring that enough people have the essential skills to drive innovation through research and development, to grow businesses and create opportunities in new industrial sectors. Ensuring the supply of these skills has the potential to boost productivity, prosperity and economic growth throughout the UK and Ireland.

Deepening our understanding

If we are to be effective in supporting this transformation, we need to deepen our understanding of skills across the UK and Ireland. And, to equip ourselves for the future, we need to understand the impact that new technological developments will have.

Our workforce skills project is designed to develop a more detailed picture of the UK and Ireland’s physics-related skills requirements. Sources including data from the UK government and the EU indicate that the UK and Irish economies face critical skills shortages, but we need to learn more about what that means for physics and the physics community specifically, and how this varies across the nations.

This information will enable us to work more effectively to strengthen the supply of physics-related skills and ensure employers have access to the skills they need to innovate and grow.

Innovation, as well as being a key ingredient for growth, also drives changes in the skills needed in academia and industry. New technologies require different skills and therefore create new skills gaps. This means that we also need to understand the likely impacts of technological change on skills requirements in the future if we are to fully realise the opportunities of the new industrial era.

Our work addressing workforce skills includes research to address these two related areas:

  • Building a full picture of physics skills across the UK and Ireland. This work looks at which occupations and sectors currently utilise physics skills, how that varies regionally, and whether employers’ needs for physics skills are being met.
  • Analysing future technology-driven skills needs. This work looks at the anticipated changes in the demand for skills in areas that make significant use of physics-related technologies, and how any new or changing skills requirements can be met.

To register your interest in this work and receive further updates, please contact [email protected].