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One fifth of workforce depends on science skills

Research carried out by the Science Council says that some 5.8 million people, or 20 per cent of the UK workforce, are employed in science-based roles.

According to “The current and future UK science workforce”, published on 6 September, this includes 1.2m primary science workers and 4.6m secondary science workers.

In the research, carried out by the consultancy firm TBR, secondary science workers are defined as those who work in occupations that are science related and require a mixed application of scientific knowledge and skills alongside other skill sets.

The report also predicts that the total figure is set to increase to 7.1 million by 2030.

According to the research, which also looked at the qualifications, location and makeup of the science-based roles, the South East, North West, Scotland and the South West are notable as employment ‘hubs’ for science.

Health and education industries employ 60 per cent of the science workforce, with the remaining 40 per cent distributed across a range of sectors, it found.

The report also revealed that although around 40 per cent of all primary science workers are women, they were far less well represented among science workers in sectors that are not science based.

“It is interesting to note the extreme difference in the gender balance for science based workers in non-science sectors where 73 per cent are male and 27 per cent are female,” reads the report. “That this is so different to the gender balance within science based sectors suggests that there is a strong bias towards employing men in science roles where the main activity of the organisation is not science based.”

The report also found that the highest paid primary science workers were employed in the public sector.

“Secondary scientists can be found, literally, everywhere in the economy using science in their jobs in lots of different ways,” said Science Council chief executive, Diana Garnham, commenting on the report in a statement. “The research begins to explain where science graduates go and why there is such huge demand for people with science qualifications. But it also demonstrates the value of studying science.”

The Science Council is an umbrella organisation for learned societies and professional bodies across science.