Wanted: People with the maths and communication skills to save our planet!

Professor Bob Allison

Professor Bob Allison, the University of Sussex Deputy Vice-Chancellor, has helped to launch a report warning against a skills gap in the UK's environment sector within the next ten years, and calling for greater collaboration between employers and trainers.

The Environment Research Funders' Forum report,  "Most Wanted", published today (11 October 2010) warns that  the UK could run short of people able to tackle urgent challenges such as environmental risks to human health, safe carbon capture and storage and developing new energy sources, unless skills gaps can be plugged.

The report summarises work led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), to examine skills that postgraduates and professionals need to equip them for work in the environment sector.  Maths and science skills, at research level, will be particularly in demand.

Professor Allison, who is also responsible for the University's research strategy, says: "In preparing the Most Wanted report we consulted widely with the employers of people with the skills needed in the environment sector. The consultations were highly productive and covered government, industry and the research sectors. We hope the report will provide a platform to drive much closer collaboration between employers of skilled people and those who provide the training."

The report identifies 15 critical skills in short supply, including hard-edged skills such as numeracy, computer modelling and conducting field research, and softer skills such as translating research into plain language so that it can be understood more easily.

It also explains why such skills are so badly needed - for example, to allow the UK to develop and apply new technologies, respond to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, and enable better knowledge and understanding of environmental issues.

Altogether, the review uncovered 224 skills which are needed by businesses, government and academics working on issues which overlap with the natural environment.  According to a recent CBI report, businesses across the UK are already struggling to recruit staff with the skills needed to meet demands in some of these areas, and the shortage is likely to hamper economic growth.

NERC's Chief Executive, Alan Thorpe, says: "I urge postgraduate training organisations, funders and employers to make use of this important report, and ensure that we have the right people with the right skills to build a productive economy, healthy society and a sustainable world."

NERC intends to update the findings regularly and is inviting people to continue contributing to this information resource.

Notes for Editors


The complete findings and summary report are freely available at:  http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/available/postgrad/skillsreview  

For further information about the Most Wanted Report, contact Marion O'Sullivan, NERC Press Office: Tel: 01793 411727 or 411561; mob: 07917 086369, or Susan Ballard, Living with Environmental Change Communications: Tel: 01793 442896; mob: 07827 980767

Find out about Research at Sussex by visiting: www.sussex.ac.uk/research

The Environmental Research Funders' Forum (ERFF) has merged with Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) since the Skills Needs Review was commissioned. This partnership brings together 22 major UK public sector funders and users of environmental research including the research councils, government departments and agencies and devolved administrations. For more details of the partner organisations and accredited activities: www.lwec.org.uk.

People can contribute more information and feedback on the Skills Needs Review to skills@nerc.ac.uk

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email: press@sussex.ac.uk

View press releases online at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/


Last updated: Monday, 11 October 2010