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Skills and Engagement Advisory Board

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) reports to STFC Council and provides them with a strategic overview and assessment of STFC’s skills programme. For STFC skills are of critical importance across all its research programmes, facilities, campuses and partners, and the organisation plays an important role in developing skills that benefit the wider UK society and economy. Moreover, our Royal Charter obliges us to engage the public, teachers and schools with our science and technology, and such work contributes to the earlier stages of the supply of people with STEM-related skills for the future of the research base and the wider UK economy.

SEAB provides independent advice to Council, in developing skills strategy and advice. In this context it may engage in external reviews. However, any such engagement must have due regard to the impact on STFC, and Council should be consulted as to the nature of the external engagement and approval obtained from the Chair of Council as appropriate.

For more information on the Skills and Engagement Advisory Board please contact Emily Swaine.

News from the SEAB

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) met on 14 November at the MRC offices, London.

The meeting focussed on the Balance of Programme (Skills) exercise, with the review panel Chair (Professor Martin Hendry, University of Glasgow) outlining progress to date. Having considered the priorities and issues facing each skills area the board discussed, and supported, the initial recommendations of the review.

The annual report from the Advisory Panel for Public Engagement (APPE) included highlights from the past year, such as the refreshed public engagement schemes, and progress against the STFC Public Engagement Strategy and Delivery Plan for 2016/21. The board commended the work of APPE and reiterated their strong support for STFC’s public engagement team taking a leading role in this area within UKRI.

Following work by the Education, Training and Careers Committee (ETCC) to develop strategic priorities for future funding opportunities the board tasked the Balance of Programme (Skills) review panel with developing an ambitious skills programme that encapsulates these priorities as part of the review process.

SEAB will next meet on 27 March at Polaris House, Swindon.

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) met on 22 June at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell.

The Board were given an update on STFC’s Equality and Diversity Strategy and Action Plan, outlining the main activities in each strand: STFC as an Employer, STFC as an Investor, STFC as a partner. The exemplar work of the STFC Dyslexia Working Group was highlighted, and SEAB commended STFC’s ambition to achieve Athena SWAN Bronze Award recognition for its efforts in advancing and supporting women’s careers.

The Education Training and Careers Committee presented their annual report with updates on studentship and fellowship training schemes. SEAB noted, in particular, the over-subscription rate of the Ernest Rutherford Fellowship Scheme, and the future considerations around CDT schemes.

Progress on the Balance of Programme (Skills) review was discussed, with SEAB due to consider the initial report in Autumn. The Board also gave their initial response to the draft Harwell Campus Strategy and committed to providing a more detailed response by mid-July.

EAB will next meet on 14 November at the MRC Offices, London.

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) met on 14 November at the MRC Offices, London.

The Advisory Panel for Public Engagement (APPE) presented their annual report, highlighting the successful process through which the Public Engagement Strategy was generated, the PEACE (Public Engagement: Attitudes, Culture and Ethos) project’s recommendations to change the culture towards public engagement and the success of the Daresbury Open Week.

The Board were provided with the wider context of the planned 2017 Skills Balance of Programme review before receiving an overview of the review process and timescale. SEAB welcomed the opportunity to undertake the Skills Balance of Programme exercise and commented on the proposed scope, process and governance of the review.

With responsibility for strategic advice on equality and diversity now within SEAB’s remit a wide ranging discussion allowed the Board to explore and understand its role in advising STFC on how to implement the RCUK Equality and Diversity Action Plan.

Other business included SEAB providing detailed comments on the latest draft of the Corporate Strategy and receiving an update on the process to select a pilot Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science.

SEAB will next meet on 28 March at Polaris House, Swindon.

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) met on 8 July at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

The Board were updated on STFC’s current activities, highlighting progress of the Higher Education and Research White Paper and Bill, John Womersley’s departure, planning subsequent to the EU referendum and updates on key strategies (including the Corporate Strategy).

A detailed overview was provided on the recent growth in investment in Official Development Assistance (ODA) research activities, with a specific focus on the Newton Fund and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). SEAB recommended exemplar training activities for consideration within the ODA research landscape.

The scope of the UK Neutron Science Strategy was outlined to SEAB, along with the process of strategy development. SEAB supported the strategy roadmap and planned pace of delivery, and recommended areas of consideration for the strategy working group.

SEAB welcomed STFC’s updated proposal to initiate a pilot Centre for Doctoral Training in data intensive science.

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) met on 22 April at the Sci-Tech Daresbury Campus.

SEAB were reminded that the call for nominations of new Board members was open until 29th April, and members were asked to publicise this opportunity.

An update was provided on STFC’s Spending Review outcome, outlining the broad implications for the core science budget, international subscriptions and the UK large facilities.

SEAB reviewed and discussed the ongoing Corporate Strategy refresh, and three draft strategies; Skills, Equality and Diversity, and Public Engagement.

SEAB discussed the update on the Skills Pipeline, and provided recommendations on the areas prioritised in the paper.

SEAB will meet next on 8 July 2016.


Committees reporting to Skills and Engagement Advisory Board

The Committees reporting to the Skills and Engagement Advisory Board are:

Terms of reference

The Board should advise Council on:

  • How STFC should invest in or otherwise encourage the development of the skills needed to ensure the continued strength of the STFC science programme delivered in Universities, Laboratories and Facilities;
  • Action needed to address current or predicted gaps in the skills needed to maintain the strength of STFC science;
  • How STFC can capitalise on and further develop the transferable skills acquired in the delivery of the STFC science programme and facilities, to benefit the wider UK society and economy;
  • How STFC should ensure that equality and diversity principles are applied and championed across its activities, to attract and develop a skilled, diverse workforce for the UK;
  • The role that the science and innovation campuses and the laboratories can play in hosting, fostering or providing advanced skills training for the benefit of the wider UK economy;
  • How STFC should develop the engagement of the public with its science and technology, including work at facilities. [Political and stakeholder engagement is not included in the Board’s remit].
  • The development and implementation of an overall STFC skills strategy, and how STFC’s contribution to skills can best be promoted to stakeholders and Government.

The Skills and Engagement Advisory Board will ensure that its business is conducted in accordance with the STFC Ethics Policy, and have regard to any ethical principles set by the STFC Ethics Committee and endorsed by Council.

Communications and reporting

The Board is a sub-committee of STFC’s Council and will report to Council. Excellent communications are required with STFC’s Science Board, Education, Training and Careers Committee, and Advisory Panel on Public Engagement, which will be achieved through joint membership and via the secretariat.

Secretariat and Meetings

The Secretariat is provided by STFC’s Strategy, Planning and Communications Directorate. The Board meets between two and three times per year, with other ad-hoc meetings arranged as required.


Copies of the agendas of the Skills and Engagement Advisory Board are available below.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000