Skills & Talent Projects

Skills & Talent Projects

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Ensuring young people have the skills for the future is one of the principal pillars of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The Industrial Strategy requires a flow of high-quality graduates to power the economy. And, crucially, it points to the need to increase opportunity for all students.

Improved workforce diversity and inclusion are long-held objectives. But we are now experiencing a real shift in attitudes, a recognition from employers, that cultivating diversity is not just the ‘right’ thing to do but vital for our future economy.

Recruiting diverse talent enables a wide mix of students to develop crucial transferable skills – breaking down some of the barriers to employment. It exposes undergraduates to a workplace culture, shaping their adaptability, communication and confidence.

But fundamentally, universities and business need to work together to produce resilient people able to cope with change and confusion. We have spent over a decade talking about work-ready graduates, now we need future-ready graduates.

Our Skills & Talent projects aim to nurture the development of the Talent from higher education to the workplace and into leadership roles. 

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships require close collaboration between universities and business to co-create new talent solutions that meet the needs of both learners and employers. We have been speaking to member universities and businesses that are currently engaging with degree apprenticeships to better understand the challenges and benefits as well as the wider implications for employers’ talent acquisition and development programmes, and the consequences, intended or otherwise, for universities and their graduates.

Student Wellbeing

While the value of people as a resource is long-established, there is growing awareness in the role of wellbeing, and what it means for productivity and innovation in the UK. Both industry and the higher education sector share an interest in the wellbeing of our students – crucial to enabling them not just to do well in higher education, but also to take on work with success as graduates. We have gathered the latest research and opinion around the topic of student wellbeing here.

Social Mobility

Universities and businesses must work together to ensure that students and graduates from all backgrounds are able to reach their potential and succeed in life. Find our what the National Centre for Universities and Business is doing in this area, here.

Talent 2030

Talent 2030 is an ambitious campaign powered by the National Centre for Universities and Business to encourage more girls to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. The programme includes the Talent 2030 Annual Dashboard and the National Engineering Competition for Girls.

Talent 2050

NCUB has commissioned Talent 2050: Engineering skills and education for the future - a UK-wide study looking to inform thinking on the needs of our engineering and digital education and skills systems into the middle of the century.

Work Experience & Placements

To keep up with and thrive within the demands of a globalised economy, where successful business can emerge and grow, the UK needs to help young people develop the necessary skills for the jobs of the future. Quality placements, internships and work experience programmes benefit business and students alike.

A partnership of the National Centre for Universities and Business, Jisc and Unite Students, Placer is an innovative platform set to diversify and increase the number of university students gaining work experience.

Skills Demand

Discussion of supply and demand in graduate skills often focuses on the shortage of graduates in priority subjects compared to the number of vacancies in industry. But experience suggests that the personal qualities of candidates and their specific employability skills can play just as big a role as the subject they have studied in making graduates ready for employment.

Student Employability Index

The Student Employability Index from the National Centre of Universities and Business provides an in depth view of employment prospects and experiences. It is a useful resource for both universities and business to better understand student expectations and experience in relation to the transition from study to the world of work.

Women in Leadership

Chaired by Rona Fairhead, this group explored a new programme of activity. We hope that this work will contribute to the wider rhetoric on this issue, and demonstrate real and effective change within participating organisations by creating more inclusive and diverse climates that will bring more women through the pipeline into senior roles.


For more information about our Skills & Talent projects, please contact

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