New Physics Technical Apprentice for University of Leicester is investment in future technicians

The University of Leicester is one of five UK higher education institutes to have received a share of £100,000 from the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy. The University of Leicester, University of Glasgow, University of Manchester, University of Strathclyde, and University of York have each been awarded £20k to create new technical apprenticeship roles to help tackle the aging workforce within the discipline of physics.

Within UK universities 45% of technicians involved in physics research and teaching are aged 51 or over*, and this is a significant challenge for the future of technical skills in this sector. This project, which is supported by the Institute of Physics and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), tackles this aging workforce gap through targeted investment in the technical workforce.

Gemma Black, Head of Technical Services Development and Strategy, University of Leicester said: “I am thrilled that the University of Leicester has this unique opportunity to support the next generation of technicians in Physics. This funding opportunity will enable team growth, staff development, and investment in local talent.

“Inspiring the next generation is central to Leicester's Technician Commitment, with apprenticeships playing a vital role in this endeavour. This apprentice will gain experience of the vast breath of activities encountered within a technical role including teaching and research support, health and safety and core skills.”

Professor Sarah Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at Leicester, said: “We are delighted to receive one of these awards. As a university, and as a signatory to the Technician Commitment, we are passionate about investing in our technical talent and developing a career route for technicians that supports progression and succession planning. Our physics apprentice technician will access incredible opportunities across education and research within one of the largest space research focused universities in the UK and in Europe. Our world-leading graduate and postgraduate programmes in the School of Physics and Astronomy are informed by our cutting-edge research and industry collaborations.”

Kelly Vere, Director of the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy and University Director of Technical Strategy for the University of Nottingham said: “We are excited to invest a total of £100k this year to accelerate the number of technical apprentices being recruited into Physics Technical Apprentice positions.

“Five new technical apprentice jobs will be created as a result, helping to bridge the skills gap within this discipline and create a more sustainable technical workforce and kick-start a new pipeline of technicians stepping into roles which are critical to world-class research and innovation.

“A second funding call will open in early 2025 when we intend to fund a further five apprenticeships within physics from a share of £100k.”

Louis Barson, Director of Science, Innovation and Skills, from the Institute of Physics (IOP) also commented. He said: “We are proud to support the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy to deliver this new national pilot. We are excited that this pilot is developing new ways to develop future careers for new Physics Technical Apprentices nationally and that the first funding round was a success.”

Dr Luke Davis, Joint Head of Research Infrastructure at ESPRC said: “A diverse technical workforce is key to the success of the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem, this pilot initiative within the field of physics will be an ideal test bed to launch similar schemes in the future, if successful.”

This is a two-year programme. The second funding round opens in early 2025. For more information about the scheme visit the programme website