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Innovation is the key to ‘Shaping Future Skills’, say Catapult Network and partners at South Wales event

Catapult Network

5 min read Partner content

The Catapult Network lends its weight to the challenge of transforming the availability of key skills within the UK in key areas of technological growth.

Catapults celebrated the one-year anniversary of signing their ‘Inclusivity in Innovation‘ Charter at the ‘Shaping Future Skills’ event, held on 7th March 2023 at the ICC Wales, Newport. Catapults recognise skills are an essential element for a thriving RD&I landscape and there is increasing recognition for the role Catapults play to drive UK skills.

Sharing her enthusiasm for the vital role of innovation and skills in Wales, Leader of Newport City Councillor, Jane Mudd, said:

It’s my personal view that investment in skills has never been so important as we look to navigate our way through the next 3 years [to achieve] a stronger, fairer, greener Wales for employability and skills.

I’d certainly like to take the opportunity today to thank you all for the work that you do with our schools and colleges across the UK. You are the change-makers. You inspire and you can make a difference… together you are at the forefront of innovation here in the UK. Your innovation, your inspiration [and] your creativity will drive growth and deliver prosperity... I am proud to welcome you here to Newport.

Councillor Jane Mudd
Leader of Newport City Council, Vice Chair of Western Gateway

Councillor Jane Mudd, Newport City Council Leader

Speaking about the event, Katherine Bennett CBE – the new Chair of the Catapult Network and CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult – commented on the Catapults’ role in creating highly-skilled clusters across all four corners of the UK, drawing from international expertise and building a diverse highly skilled talent pool.

Science and innovation thrive on the knowledge and expertise of thousands of people across the country.  Skills are a natural by-product and vice-versa. At our first major event of 2023, we learned how Catapults and partners are lending their weight to transforming skills in sectors of high growth.

Katherine Bennett CBE
Chair of the Catapult Network
CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Katherine continues:

“To truly foster inclusivity in innovation, we must prioritise accessibility and availability of skills locally. Newport, the location of our event, is a great example of this in action across the compound semiconductors industry.

“And there are many more examples out there which have Catapults at their core playing a crucial role in using their unique networks to help predict the future skills requirements in different sectors and build services to help meet those requirements.

“Government has ambitions to forge a better Britain and for the UK to be a science superpower. It is recognised that national skills capability and plans are needed to enable that. Catapults are one of the many interventions doing just that.

“There is a lot to do and by working together alongside Innovate UK we will shape the skills needed for the future of our nation.”

Katherine Bennett, Chair of the Catapult Network and CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Sharing Innovate UK’s steps to strengthen national skills, Dr David Wilkes, Director of Innovation Ecosystems at Innovate UK, said:

If our innovation programs are successful, then we’re ultimately creating the skills gaps of the future and this is something we absolutely have to address.

So what does that mean in practice for Innovate UK? Talent and skills are critical to the success of our future programs to grow innovative businesses, which is what Innovate UK and Catapults are here to do. As part of our mission, Innovate UK is working with all the Catapults to set up a Workforce Foresighting Hub. This includes understanding skills gaps for emerging technologies and working with DfE and skills providers to ensure the future of the workforce and the provision of the right combination of skills.

The community Innovate UK and Catapults have built around this has been really important and I’m excited that we can now take this important work forward together.

Dr David Wilkes
Director of Innovation Ecosystems, Innovate UK

Reflecting on the event, Rob Bryan, Chair of Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, highlighted the continued importance of Cross-Catapult collaboration on shaping skills across STEM industries, expressing his pride in observing the positive impact Catapults are making on the country. He said:

I felt extremely proud to be sitting in Wales’ International Conference Centre in Newport on Tuesday observing the very essence of what Catapults have come to mean for the United Kingdom.

Alex Leadley, Skills Academy Manager for Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, working alongside Martin McHugh, her CEO, and Katherine Bennett, Chair of the Catapult Network and CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, responsible for the highly influential Manufacturing the Future Workforce report, collaborated to lead an extremely powerful exposition of how Innovate UK, through the Catapult Network, is driving the skills value chain through the development of a tailored, systematic approach to shaping how skills are provided across STEM.

Rob Bryan
Chair, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult

This event marks another key area where Catapults’ collective effort seeks to affirm commitment and drive action, celebrating the excellent work done so far and exploring future opportunities for national skills.

Read the Catapult Network: Inclusivity in Innovation Charter here.

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