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26 October 2022

House of Lords committee hears evidence from King's expert

A King’s academic appeared before a House of Lords committee to offer his expert insight into the state of training and skills in the UK’s STEM sector.

Professor Lewis appeared before a House of Lords committee. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Professor Paul Lewis was among a panel of experts called to give evidence to the Lords Science and Technology Committee on 25 October, with Dame Judith Hackitt, former chair of Make UK; and Rob Nitsch, chief operating officer from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Prof Lewis, from the Department of Political Economy, was asked to share his thoughts on the state of the UK’s STEM apprenticeship system, what we can learn from other countries, the role universities can play in apprenticeships, and the factors preventing more companies from taking on apprentices.

He told the committee of the “serious problems” with the system, with particular regard to the training of the technical workforce (possessing intermediate – level 3-5 skills).

He said: “The UK has a smaller share of technicians in its workforce than other countries with whom we like to compare ourselves, so there’s a problem with … the stock of technicians. The second problem is that the UK trains fewer apprentices relative to the size of its existing workforce than do other countries, so we have a problem with the flow of new people.

“Another problem, which is symptomatic of the difficulties with the system is that, compared with other countries, we have a problem with over-qualification. We tend to employ, more than other countries, graduates to fill roles for which a technician, an intermediate level qualification, is required.”

Prof Lewis has carried out research both into the technician workforce in various parts of UK manufacturing (a summary of which can be found in his contribution to this volume and also into the contribution made by technicians to innovation (see

Earlier this year, Prof Lewis published a report as part of the TALENT commission which set out its recommendations to help develop the technical workforce in UK higher education and research institutes and thereby support research, productivity, and growth in the UK. The report, funded by Research England, also published new data about the skills, roles and careers of the technical workforce in UK higher education and research and offers 16 recommendations for the sector.

Prof Lewis joined the commission at its inception in 2020 and worked closely with experts from a range of disciplines and organisations, headed by commission chair Professor Sir John Holman.

Watch the session...

You can watch the full committee meeting here.

In this story

Paul Lewis

Professor of Political Economy