Science sector experts to tackle recruitment and diversity issues

Recruitment and diversity problems in the science sector are to be tackled using a new group of industry experts, the government has said.

Following the ‘Vision for science and society’ consultation last year, the Science for Careers group has been launched by the Department for Innovation University and Skills as part of a project to help change jobseekers’ perceptions of the sector.

Diana Garnham, chair of the new group and chief executive of the Science Council, told Personnel Today the group will look at how to raise the profile of scientists and introduce more flexible working opportunities.

She said: “It’s very important to get people to aspire to jobs in the sciences. There are big recruitment issues in the science industry and there are a lot of hidden areas where there are science careers that people just don’t know about.

“Some sectors don’t have the right skills mix and we don’t retain people. We need to raise awareness of the opportunities out there at every level.”

To do this, Garnham wants to raise the profile of scientists to help potential recruits visualise what the jobs entail.

“We need to give people more opportunities to visualise what scientists do by getting scientists to do more in local communities and visit schools and universities” she said.

The group will also look at how to improve diversity within the industry by introducing more flexible working opportunities.

Garnham said: “The science community needs to reflect the diversity in the wider society. It’s definitely not doing that at the moment. We don’t have enough women at the top and we don’t have the ethnic balance right.

“Flexible working has to be looked at, but it’s difficult in science as people have to run labs.”

The group will also look at the success of internship programmes and how to improve access to work experience placements.

The group will meet for the first time next month and will include recent graduates alongside those employed in the science, technology, engineering and maths professions.

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