UKCES Futures Programme Launches Fourth Competition: Skills for Innovation in Manufacturing

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) is inviting new and ground breaking proposals to boost the skills and business practices needed to maximise the value of UK innovation. The competition is focused on the range of non-technological/ STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills required to manage and commercialise innovation, and on the workplace practices concerning how staff are developed, engaged and deployed to support innovation.

UKCES is looking to invest in projects at the development (progressing/refining existing ideas), piloting (small scale 'real world' piloting and evaluation of outcomes) and scaling (growing/spreading of a practice/ idea/product) stages. Some of the areas in which they might expect solutions to be developed include:

- Innovation-relevant management development.
- Innovation-relevant commercialisation development.
- Recruitment, retention and career pathways.
- Job design.
- Incentivising innovation.
- Broader organisational strategy.

A principle of the UK Futures Programme is that it should be a test-bed for employer-devised solutions to the challenges identified in each competition. Therefore, its purpose is to encourage experimentation in and the development of workplace practices to understand what works, what doesn't, and why in respect to solving the particular problem at the heart of each competition.

A total investment pot of up to £1 million is available in 2015 for the Competition. The UKCES expects to invest up to a maximum of £150,000 per successful proposal. UKCES will invest differing amounts according to the nature of the project being proposed (ie research, development, piloting, scaling).

Applications are invited from employers of all sizes across the UK from the manufacturing sector.

Proposals can be submitted by businesses or business representative bodies. Collaborations between businesses and between businesses and other bodies are encouraged, and. intermediaries, such as universities, are welcome to be included in proposals. Individual businesses are also welcome to apply, but they must show evidence of wider engagement with other businesses and potential for impact beyond their organisation.

Potentially eligible projects could include, but are not limited to:

- Introducing new training for staff, line and/or senior managers.
- The development of organisational structures and processes.
- Facilitating work placements or sharing staff between organisations.
- Mentoring, coaching, or peer-to-peer learning.
- Building new or developing existing employer networks to address the Skills for Innovation challenges highlighted in the Competition brief.
- Developing or adapting tools and techniques for restructuring innovation management, aligned to broader organisational strategy.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 11 March 2015 (12pm).


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