Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


UK Polar Network Committee provided feedback for a UK Natural Environment Research Council-led report regarding what skills are most wanted for post-graduates to be effective and successful in the UK environment sector. It is reassuring to see a larger body reaffirm the needs which the APECS and the UKPN have identified, including training in fieldwork and science communication.

You can read the press release below, but the whole report (including executive summary and larger skills framework) are available on the NERC website.

UK’s Most Wanted: People with the maths and communication skills to save our planet!

Over the next 10 years the UK could run short of people able to tackle urgent challenges such as environmental risks to human health, safe carbon capture and storage and developing new energy sources, unless skills gaps can be plugged.

This is the finding in a report published today (October 11th) by The Environment Research Funders’ Forum. The report summarises work led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), to examine skills that post-graduates and professionals need to equip them for work in the environment sector.

The “Most Wanted” Report identifies 15 critical skills in short supply, including hard-edged skills such as numeracy, computer modelling and conducting field research, and softer skills such as translating research into plain language so that it can be understood more easily. It also explains why such skills are so badly needed – for example, to allow the UK to develop and apply new technologies, respond to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, and enable better knowledge and understanding of environmental issues.

Altogether, the review uncovered 224 skills which are needed by businesses, government and academics working on issues which overlap with the natural environment. According to a recent CBI report, businesses across the UK are already struggling to recruit staff with the skills needed to meet demands in some of these areas, and the shortage is likely to hamper economic growth.

NERC’s Chief Executive, Alan Thorpe, says,
“Leading this review gave us an excellent opportunity to examine training and skills plans to address the challenges we face now and into the future. People with qualifications and skills in science and maths will be particularly sought after to encourage economic growth and future prosperity in the UK. I urge postgraduate training organisations, funders and employers to make use of this important report, and ensure that we have the right people with the right skills to build a productive economy, healthy society and a sustainable world.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Sussex University and member of the review’s project board, Bob Allison, says,
“In preparing the Most Wanted report we consulted widely with the employers of people with the skills needed in the environment sector. The consultations were highly productive and covered government, industry and the research sectors. We hope the report will provide a platform to drive much closer collaboration between employers of skilled people and those who provide the training.”

NERC intends to update the findings regularly and is inviting people to continue contributing to this information resource.

Marion O'Sullivan,
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411727 or 411561
Mob: 07917 086369

Susan Ballard,
Living with Environmental Change Communications,
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 442896
Mob: 07827 980767

The Environmental Research Funders’ Forum (ERFF) has merged with Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) since the Skills Needs Review was commissioned. This partnership brings together 22 major UK public sector funders and users of environmental research including the research councils, government departments and agencies and devolved administrations. For more details of the partner organisations and accredited activities:

People can contribute more information and feedback on the Skills Needs Review to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The complete findings and summary report are freely available at:

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