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On Tuesday 3rd October I travelled up to the IoP offices in London to attend the roundtable with other representatives from physics-based organisations, as well as from education and skills development organisations, chambers of commerce and the DfE.  

The focus of this gathering was to address the pressing issue of the skill gaps in physics-related careers, a concern echoed in the IoP’s latest report, “Solving Skills.“. The report highlighted a significant challenge: a staggering one million physics-related roles in sectors such as green energy and digital innovation do not require a degree. This knowledge gap results in limited engagement, hindering our workforce potential. At OQC, we, too, believe that science knows no boundaries; that’s why I was thrilled to be a part of the IoP’s recent roundtable earlier this month, which explored how the community can come together to bridge the gap in physics-related careers. 

One alarming trend revealed in the report was the insufficient number of physics-related apprenticeships, particularly when considering the skills shortage. Moreover, the low percentage of apprentices who complete their programs exacerbates the problem. The repercussions of this gap in technical skills are felt across industries, with businesses forced to suspend or delay vital research and development activities due to the absence of skilled workers.

The resounding message of the day was the power of collaboration. To tackle the growing skills gap, it’s so important for employers, educators, and other stakeholders to come together. During the day, we delved into strategies to enhance the uptake and diversity of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships serve as not just avenues for skill development but also gateways to promising and fulfilling careers.

The discussion highlighted some fundamental truths that resonated deeply with me and more widely with our mission/values at OQC:

  • Endless Career Paths: It opens doors to so many career options. It’s not just about being in a lab; it’s about shaping industries, policies, and innovations.
  • Inclusivity is Key:  Physics, like any other field, is for everyone. Embracing diversity fuels creativity and progress.
  • Strength in Unity: Physics thrives on teamwork and diverse viewpoints. Collaboration and shared ideas are the cornerstones of groundbreaking discoveries.
  • Connecting for a Quantum Future:  the future is quantum, and where better to start than with an apprenticeship.

As I reflect on this event, I’m filled with optimism and determination. By opening our doors and sharing our knowledge, we can inspire the physicists of tomorrow.  A huge thanks to the IoP for spearheading this conversation and for providing us with a platform to connect, learn, and grow.  Stay tuned for more updates on OQC’s journey towards a brighter future. Together, we can empower the next generation and change the world, one innovation at a time. 

About the author

Gillian Steele is OQC’s talent acquisition associate. Gillian’s background is varied, ranging from pharmaceutical testing to helping coordinate a project to improve Physics Research capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa and teaching in secondary schools. Outside of work, Gillian enjoys long walks in the countryside, and has a Masters in Creative Enterprise.