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Anticipating future skills and roles is one of the perennial challenges for employers and universities.

The world changes constantly, turbulently and rapidly and the training and education of today’s graduates may not equip them for the industry they intend to enter in three or four years’ time. Courses designed for today are, inevitably, not designed for 2025. So, building capacity in the graduate talent base to meet upcoming business challenges requires sophisticated and sustained collaboration and cooperation between higher education institutions and companies.

The recent announcement from the University Alliance network highlights a positive step forward. Thirteen Alliance universities have joined forces to launch a Nationwide multi-partner Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA), initially aimed at Applied Biosciences. Their PhD programme focusing on industry skill development in Applied Biosciences. The Alliance is clear about its reasons for this; Britain currently has substantial competitive advantage and aims to boost this.

The Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA), builds on research strengths and industry-focused ethos, with its training programme that responds to the demands of modern industry, aiming to produce highly experienced and employable researchers. Global businesses can take the research funds anywhere in the world, and it is crucial that the UK produces postgraduates that deliver value.

One of the most important reality checks that students in the DTA will discover is that business problems are interdisciplinary and that trend is accelerating, as nature recently pointed out, we need to scale the disciplinary walls to increase the common good (you can download their poster below). We also need to ensure the steady flow talented graduates into doctoral programmes by ensuring the steady flow of funds into science.

To this end, our Strategic Adviser Graeme Reid recently gave evidence to the science and technology committee highlighting the nation’s ongoing needs and the importance of protecting science budgets.

There is no science to future-gazing. The most important thing businesses and universities can do is to work together to build a talent base for whatever future we experience.

Nature poster