Presenting a call to arms, Martino Picardo and Jim Duvall ask representatives across the sector to join the ‘Schools to Science Park’ movement and convert local skills efforts into a national collaboration.

Despite the current pandemic, there is still considerable activity around the skills agenda in the UK. Government is driving a “jobs today” skills agenda which includes how we might re-train or re-direct those skilled workers in sectors that are currently suffering into high-demand areas like Life Sciences and Biotechnology.

We are all acutely aware of the need (and skills required) for vaccine delivery and manufacture, as well as the short-term (but with a long-term goal also) of the importance of the diagnostics Industry in the UK. We cannot solely rely on other Countries solving our current problems or those relating to any future pandemics.

Alongside this, there is also the need for “skills tomorrow” to be high on the agenda to deliver the skills required around Big Data, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning, AI and Virtual Reality to rapidly support these developments.

There are so many opportunities for training, internships, apprenticeships and vocational education programmes that could be more closely associated with our Science Parks. The question is, how do we make those connections to make it a national not just local effort?

How do we enthuse and excite our STEM students today and tomorrow to believe that there are jobs out there? Indeed, more specifically, how do we make them aware of the variety of jobs that do and will exist in our Science Parks, at the heart of our industrial, urban and rural clusters in the UK?

There is some great work taking place on UKSPA member Science Parks across the UK and Discovery Park in Kent – where the “Schools to Science Park” mantra has been embraced – was recognised by UKSPA as a pioneer in this area at the most recent UKSPA Awards.  This rewarded the work of the team at Sandwich on their Community Lab engagement and projects with the local schools in Kent.

In partnership with Pfizer and Canterbury Christchurch University, Discovery Park has excited those students around Chemistry for drug discovery. This is a continuation of the vision that originally focused on those aged 12 to 16 and the team at Discovery Park have big plans to expand the vision into other areas (like Biology, Gene Therapy and Digital) all leading to helping to identify jobs in those fields for those students.

Many other Science Parks share that same passion, run their own local activities. So, we want to send out a ‘call to arms’ across the sector to see how much more could be done in a collaborative and connected way.

If you have an interest in learning more or finding out how you can join the “Schools to Science Park” movement, then do contact

Authors: Martino Picardo (Chairman, Discovery Park) and Jim Duvall (Executive Director, UKSPA)