To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to increase the supply of laboratory scientist technicians.
The government wants to encourage more students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and training at all stages from primary school to higher education, which will equip people with the skills needed for such roles. We are investing an additional £406 million in skills, including maths and digital. This includes the Advanced Maths Premium and an £84 million programme to improve the teaching of computing.
It is crucial we encourage more young people to consider STEM careers, including careers such as laboratory scientist technicians. We have committed to improving STEM careers advice in schools in the government’s careers strategy which ensures that STEM encounters, such as with employers and apprenticeships, are built into school career programmes by updating school and college statutory guidance.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also funds a number of programmes that aim to inspire more young people to study science subjects, such as the STEM Ambassadors programme, and the CREST awards, which engage students in STEM-related projects.
T levels will also provide alternative routes into laboratory and science technical careers. T levels will be a new gold-standard in technical education, providing a distinctive and rigorous alternative to A levels and apprenticeships. T level panels of employers are defining the outline content for the new programmes and we recently announced that T levels in the Health and Science route, which includes Laboratory Sciences, will be taught by selected providers from 2021.
Apprenticeships are available in the sector across a range of levels including Laboratory scientist (degree); Laboratory scientist Level 5; and Laboratory technician Level 3. These standards are being developed by employer groups, including groups in the health and science sector such as Pfizer, GSK, Astra Zeneca, Sterling Pharma Solutions, 3M. A full list of standards is available on the Institute for Apprenticeships’ website at https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/.
To stimulate apprenticeships growth across all sectors, we are first and foremost ensuring that apprenticeships are a quality product recognised by individuals and employers – setting individuals on a path to a to great career and providing employers with the home-grown skills they need to grow their businesses and increase productivity.
We are also currently carrying out a review of higher technical education, looking at how level 4 and 5 classroom based technical education meets the needs of learners and employers. This forms part of our commitment to support routes to higher-earning technical roles and address the skills needs of the economy. Our ambition is to reform higher level technical education so that it delivers the skills employers and the economy need and offers attractive routes to higher earning technical roles. We also intend to establish a system of employer-led national standards for higher technical education.