The UK chemical sciences workforce is changing. With technology affecting the nature of work and the way it is undertaken, greater emphasis in policy on growing back greener and the challenges faced across the economy in a COVID-19 world, understanding our workforce is key.
Our report – Chemistry's contribution: workforce trends and economic impact – is the latest publication in our Talent series. Commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry and conducted by Cambridge Econometrics, this study provides evidence on the scale and skills of the UK’s chemistry-using workforce and its substantial direct and indirect contribution to the UK economy.
Workforce trends and economic impact report
The study was undertaken prior to COVID-19 but the findings remain pertinent – highlighting the highly skilled nature of the chemistry using workforce, their substantial economic contribution and the strong role place plays in employment opportunity in the chemical science industry.
We are calling on Government to carefully consider sector-specific conditions when deciding on business or sector closures in the face of second wave of the pandemic. Another lockdown means specific financial support will be absolutely critical to research-intensive SMEs, to retain talent and ideas within the UK economy and support future economic growth. We must ensure that strategies for economic recovery include processes to improve place-based understanding of sector capacity and strategies which support levelling-up across nations and regions in the UK. In short, the chemical sciences are what you need for the recovery you want.
Five point action plan
We are calling for a coordinated approach which protects industry vital to a green economic recovery, ensures the pipeline of essential chemical sciences talent and supports levelling up across the UK.
SME Support: Research intensive SME’s in the chemical sciences have clearly demonstrated that they can operate COVID safe. Government should consider sector specific conditions when deciding on business or sector closures In a second wave. If locked down, financial support will be critical to research intensive SMEs to retain talent and ideas within the UK economy and support future economic growth.
Place is important: Monitoring is required to inform a place-based understanding of sector capacity and strategies which support levelling up across the UK.
Chemical science professionals are key to recovery: Effective collaboration between government and professional and sector bodies is essential to supporting environmental and economic recovery.
Teacher support: Teachers in the chemical sciences are a diversely and highly skilled workforce. Wider evidence suggests that the most effective teachers have good knowledge of their subject and how to teach it effectively. High-quality subject specific training and development should be an ongoing entitlement for all teachers, whatever stage they are in their teaching career.
Chemistry knowledge and skills retention: Chemistry knowledge impacts the generation of an average of £83bn annually for the UK economy. In these challenging times the workforce’s professional standards and underpinning knowledge must be retained within the UK economy to support Government's ambitions for R&D and deliver a sustainable green recovery.
Chemistry and chemists are at the heart of the Croda growth story and our continued ability to hire the best people will ultimately determine our future success.
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