The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) has today published its Future-Facing Innovation Strategy.

Innovation is key to the government’s agenda and to meeting the challenge of climate change, to driving productivity and economic growth, and to creating high-paid jobs that benefit everyone in society. 

A study from McKinsey found that by 2030 nine in ten employees will need to acquire new skills. As the voice of employers in the skills system, IfATE has a critical role when it comes to ensuring that apprenticeships and technical qualifications provide the skills employers need now, and for the future.

The strategy sets out how IfATE will work with employers, innovators, technologists, and researchers to identify emerging skills needs and embed them into apprenticeships and technical qualifications. As a result, the economy and employers will be supported by a skilled workforce fit for the future.

Rachel Cooper and Beth Chaudhary, IfATE’s Strategy Directors, said: “We are committed to working with employers, innovators, researchers, technologists and the wider skills system to understand the emerging skills the workforce requires. We are keen to use a model that sees a range of responses working together to meet need, wherever businesses are in the country, from short courses like Skills Bootcamps, to the updating of our occupational standards.”

As part of its work on innovation and emerging skills, IfATE have partnered with Innovate UK. Innovate UK is the national innovation agency, supporting business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies, and regions. It is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK.

Innovate UK, with input from IfATE, have commissioned research which has led to the development of an Innovation Skills Framework, also published today. The Innovation Skills Framework support employers to harness, and pioneer, new technology, transition to green ways of working, and drive increased productivity.

Debbie Johnson, Head of Innovation, Talent and Skills, Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is committed to building the innovative technical education system needed to achieve our science and innovation ambitions. It is vital that we support people in developing the skills needed to contribute to the work of innovation, and the Innovation Skills Framework provides a vital foundation in this endeavour. The IfATE strategy sets out the need for government organisations to lead by example and to ensure we are not only leading innovative thinking but inspiring this in others. I look forward to continuing our work with IfATE to maximise the innovation potential of our society.”

Examples of where IfATE have identified and met emerging skills already include the Battery Manufacturing Technician standard, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital and Technology Solutions standards, and the Installation Electrician and Maintenance Electrician standard.

IfATE is working with the Workforce Foresighting Hub, which has been set up by Innovate UK to understand skills gaps for emerging technologies, to help engage in planning for new skills needed in developing areas.

One example is looking at the impact of quantum and hydrogen technologies across key routes, and forming new ways of working with employers to understand the influence those technologies might have on occupational standards.

This is IfATE’s third strategy in a series of three, following the Climate Change and Environmental Skills Strategy and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy. All these strategies focus on IfATE’s aim to build a world-class skills system for employers and learners.