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Cogent Higher Level Skills Strategy
Technically Higher is the roadmap to higher level skills for the science-based industries represented by Cogent Sector Skills Council. The industries range from the strategic (Nuclear) to the world-leading (Pharmaceuticals); many are incubators of new technologies (Chemicals - Industrial Biotechnology, Plastics - Composites) that will refresh and renew the sector in the future; others generate wealth and support our self-sufficiency in energy fuels (Oil & Gas and Petroleum). All have the deployment of higher level and technical skills at the heart of their business.

A distinguishing feature of these industries is a workforce that is dominated by professional and technical occupations who contribute to a 20% share of UK manufacturing turnover (of the order of £170bn per year). To maintain their leading edge, the industry recruits up to 4,000 graduates every year, 45% of which are from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. But with a technical and graduate working population of the order of 500,000, securing workforce development that employers are prepared to invest in is a critical path for Technically Higher.

With recent policy papers from Government, such as Skills for Growth and Higher Ambitions, underlining the importance of employer engagement with Higher Education and the direction of funding for strategic workforce development at technical levels, we believe Technically Higher will leave our industries well-placed for partnership. Employers in our sector tell us that they want ‘Gold Standard’ skills for their employees: skills in Technical Competence, Business Improvement, Compliance, and Functional & Behavioural skills. These precepts guide our engagement.

Technically Higher gives clarity to the complementary roles of a Sector Skill Council and National Skills Academies within an industry footprint, it directs how our annual action plans will sit within the UK skills policy framework, and it looks to engage key stakeholders, professions, sectors, regions and Government in order to maximize impact.

Through Working Higher, our £2.9m Foundation degree Framework, aimed at the technical workforce and funded by HEFCE and BIS, we have laid down a model of consortia and partnership with Higher Education balanced by raising demand with employers. The Higher Level Skills team at Cogent are now preparing, through Technically Higher, to expedite a continuous seam of workforce development to the highest levels.

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