UK government invests £1.1 billion to upskill workforce in future technologies

The investment aims to develop a highly skilled workforce and ensure the UK remains a global leader in innovation.

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The UK government has unveiled a £1.1 billion package to upskill thousands of individuals in future technologies such as AI, 6G, and quantum computing. Speaking at the Maths Summit in London, the Science and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, outlined plans to bolster the country’s workforce, ensuring it has the necessary skills to excel in key industries and maintain global competitiveness.

A significant portion of the investment will go towards establishing the UK’s largest-ever initiative in engineering and physical science doctoral skills. Over £1 billion from various sources will fund the training of more than 4,000 students across the UK through 65 Centres for Doctoral Training. This initiative aims to provide talented individuals with opportunities to pursue advanced degrees and contribute to cutting-edge research closer to home.

The government emphasises the geographical diversity of the training opportunities, focusing on regions outside of the south-east of England. Cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Sheffield, and Manchester will host many training places, ensuring nationwide broad access to skill development.

Several specialised training programs are highlighted, including efforts at King’s College London to advance personalised surgery through micro-surgical robots and chemical techniques. Additionally, initiatives at the University of Bristol will leverage digital chemistry, including AI, to facilitate the development of new drugs, such as antibiotics and cancer treatments.

The investment also encompasses £60 million for new quantum skills programs, addressing the growing demand for talent in quantum technologies. Funding will support initiatives such as quantum PhD studentships, early career researcher grants, and apprenticeship pathways into the quantum workforce.

In addition to investments in skills development, the government is launching various initiatives to support innovation and entrepreneurship in key sectors. These include establishing a medicines manufacturing skills centre of excellence and a venture capital fellowship program to drive breakthroughs in vaccines and AI.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins highlighted the role of technology, including AI, in delivering improved healthcare services. The government’s investments align with broader initiatives to enhance productivity in the NHS and recruit and retain healthcare professionals.

Why does it matter?

The investment in future technologies and upskilling is crucial for the UK’s global competitiveness and innovative edge. These measures underscore the government’s commitment to fostering a highly skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and economic growth in the UK, as the tech evolution is lightning-fast evolving worldwide. The government aims to position the UK as a global leader in future technologies through targeted training, research, and entrepreneurship investments while retaining professionals.