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Developing Technician Skills for Innovative Industries: theory; evidence from the uk life sciences industry; and policy implications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-643
Number of pages27
JournalBritish Journal of Industrial Relations
Volume58
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2020
DOIs
Accepted/In press11 Feb 2020
E-pub ahead of print3 Mar 2020
Published1 Sep 2020

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Abstract

This article explores how innovative firms attempt to acquire the skilled technicians needed to deploy new technologies. Interviews with 40 employers from the UK life sciences sector reveal that shortages of technicians, an awareness of the importance of practical skills best acquired through work-based learning, and increasing dissatisfaction with the use of graduates, are encouraging employers to turn towards apprenticeship training. However, the rules governing the funding of various kinds of education and training discourage providers from offering the kinds of apprenticeships increasingly sought by employers, giving rise to a ‘system failure’ that manifests itself in shortages of technicians and the use of over-qualified graduates in technician roles.

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