DSIT joins STEM Futures scheme in Whitehall first, to build civil servants’ sci-tech skills

11/09/2023

SCORES of civil servants are set to benefit from direct workplace experience on the frontline of cutting-edge technology and science, as the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) today (Monday 11 September) becomes the first central government department to join the STEM Futures scheme. The scheme puts civil servants together with a diverse range of experts who all have a shared interest, ranging from data science, to systems thinking (the scientific approach to problem-solving and project management).

STEM Futures works by providing opportunities like shadowing, placements and mentoring, both inside and outside of government, with a view to building out civil servants’ STEM knowledge in these areas, enabling them to learn directly from the experts from various backgrounds they are brought together with. It is the cross-Whitehall effort to boost civil servants’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) knowledge and competence over the long-term, offering civil servants experience at leading technology companies, research institutes and universities.

The programme, which is run by the Government Science and Engineering Profession, is a partnership of organisations across industry, academia, and the public sector.

Science and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said:

“Joining STEM Futures is another milestone in DSIT’s mission to build the world’s most innovative economy here in the UK, building on the UK’s unique leading role in science and technology.

Our universities one of our biggest exports and their reputation is globally coveted, while we are just third country in the world to boast a tech sector valued at over one trillion dollars.

“STEM Futures, alongside our own Expert Exchange programme, will ensure central Government has the direct experience and expertise from the front lines of science and technology it needs to truly understand the issues facing sci-tech leaders, and arm civil servants with the skills they need to shape practical policies that will work for industry, academia, and the wider public.”

With its focus on long-term skills development and career progression, STEM Futures is the ideal complement to DSIT’s ongoing work to bring cutting-edge expertise into the heart of Government though its Expert Exchange scheme.

Starting with secondments for experts from industry and academia, the Expert Exchange is overhauling the way DSIT works with the science and technology sectors, developing a whole suite of ways to share knowledge between Government, industry and academia, in a way that benefits all parties. This could include visits to stakeholders, shadowing opportunities, and fellowships.

Joining STEM Futures further cements that mission, with a view to making working hand-in-glove with experts and stakeholders the default mode for policymaking at DSIT. Building a world-class STEM knowledge base in the heart of Whitehall in this way supports the Government’s ambitions to make the UK the most innovative economy in the world, as set out in the Science and Technology Framework.

The strategic vision sets out 10 key actions to achieve this goal by 2030, this includes to build on the UK’s already enviable talent and skills base, and to create a pro-innovation culture throughout the public sector.

The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, said:

“I am delighted that the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology have joined STEM Futures. This is a great opportunity to deliver increased scientific capability through knowledge exchange to develop a more scientific civil service.”

The Expert Exchange Programme supports DSIT’s core mission to put the full might of the UK government behind science, innovation and technology in order to foster the growth of future industries, and ultimately improve the lives of every citizen. But doing this will only be possible if deep knowledge and expertise is brought to bear when making practical, proportional policies around these new technologies and innovations.

The Expert Exchange Programme aims to embed these new skills and perspectives throughout DSIT’s work. The dedicated Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is the force behind the Prime Minister’s commitment to growing the economy, and to improving the lives of everyone in the UK through new discoveries that advance the health and prosperity of society whilst protecting our values both at home and abroad.

The Department launched the Science and Technology Framework in March 2023, backed by over £370 million to boost investment in innovation, to bring the world’s best talent to the UK, and seize the potential of ground-breaking new technologies like AI.

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