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On-going projects

THYME: Developing a curriculum framework for bioeconomy employability

The
Challenge

The bioeconomy is a large and growing sector of the UK economy, estimated to be worth £220 Billion GVA*. As a key sector in the government’s drive towards a zero carbon future, the UK industrial strategy has set ambitious targets to double the bioeconomy by 2030. In order to achieve that level of growth, a highly skilled and multidisciplinary graduate workforce is essential.

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There are 415,000 people employed in the bioeconomy in the North of England*
Science and Innovation Audit of the Bioeconomy

Recent research within bioscience-based industries indicated that graduate employees were lacking in essential key skills and that there were multiple barriers amongst graduates to engagement with STEM careers, including socioeconomic, gender, disability, and ethnicity barriers.

Other studies have alluded to issues around the bioeconomy’s visibility in Careers Service materials and to potential issues around students’ abilities to analyse their own skills and map them against job opportunities. To date, no formal research has tested these suppositions in the context of bioeconomy

The
Approach

Lead researchers

Emma Peasland Graham Scott Dr Katharine Hubbard dominic henri Lesley Morrell

Project funded by

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The research team will address these issues by the development of a research informed bioeconomy curriculum framework for employability that integrates and meets the needs of key stakeholders: students, educators and employers.

The project aims to support the career aspirations of regional students towards the bioeconomy with a focus on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). A particular area of focus will be to create frameworks to remove the barriers for progression for students from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds.

To produce a comprehensive study of issues around the graduate talent pipeline, the research team has identified three discrete groups of stakeholders:

  • Regional bioeconomy-related companies employing STEM graduates
  • Stakeholders with an interest in closing skills gaps for the region
  • Organisations and individuals supporting careers advice at FE and HE level

The research team will undertake telephone interviews with representatives from each stakeholder group, covering a geographical area that broadly aligns with the THYME Project – covering northern Lincolnshire, through Hull and East Yorkshire and across North Yorkshire and Teesside. Interviews will discuss graduate roles within regional businesses and perceptions of the skills and attributes needed by graduates as well as any difficulties experienced around skilled graduate recruitment.

Findings from the interviews will be used to develop an education curriculum framework specific to the bioeconomy that will identify and highlight skills and qualification gaps within recent graduates and highlight approaches that can address the development of these skills within a higher education curriculum setting. A range of outputs will be created targeted at different stakeholders including materials aimed at raising awareness amongst students of opportunities within the bioeconomy.

The Impact

The research has the potential to provide regional businesses the talent pipeline needed for the bioeconomy sector to flourish. To design an education framework that can embed key skills across multiple STEM disciplines in higher education to ensure that graduates seeking work have the necessary attributes to make a rapid transition from student to a productive member of the bioeconomy workforce. As well as impact on the regional bioeconomy, there is potential for wider dissemination of the model proposed by the research team on a national scale, thereby impacting the education and employment practices across the UK.

Get involved

We are currently inviting THYME region bioeconomy employers to take part in this research to help shape a graduate talent pipeline for the industry.

Our researcher, Emma Peasland is conducting interviews to find out about graduate roles within regional businesses and their experiences of graduate recruitment. Interviews will also cover the skills and attributes respondents feel are essential and whether there is a perception of a ‘skills gap’ amongst graduate recruits.

Emma Peasland said: “This research has the potential to create a blueprint for educators to enhance their programmes and create the highly skilled graduates needed by the growing bioeconomy. The interviews should only take around 30-60 minutes and give employers the opportunity to feed into this research and really shape future education programmes to get the best graduate recruits for their businesses.”

The research covers bioeconomy businesses based in East or North Yorkshire, North or North-east Lincolnshire or Teesside. If you are interested in participating or would like more information please contact Emma Peasland at e.peasland@hull.ac.uk

Other on-going research projects