The UK’s science sectors have been given a £52 million boost  from the government and industry to improve skills and vocational training.

The funding is being announced by science minister David Willetts at the official launch of the Science and Industrial Partnership (SIP), which is being led by GlaxoSmithKline. SIP is hoping to deliver 1,360 apprenticeships, 240 traineeships, 150 industry degrees, 230 master degree modules and 5,900 ‘workforce development’ opportunities.

The government will be contributing £32.6 million, with £20 million from employers, alongside £31 million in-kind contributions. This will fund a range of “ultimately self-sustaining activities” expected to improve skills in the life sciences, chemicals and industrial sciences sectors.

Apart from GSK, a number of drugmakers  are on the SIP board, including Amgen, AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer and Takeda. The scheme is being facilitated by Cogent, expert skills body for the science industries.

Mr Willetts said the science-based industries “are critical to our future prosperity – and higher skills are the key driver of their competitiveness. Our investment will help the industry to take the lead investing in the skills they need”. GSK’s Malcolm Skingle, chair of the SIP board added that the life sciences sector in the UK “continues to evolve at a rapid rate and so it is essential that the next generation of scientists have the skills that both they and business require to be successful in the future”.

He went on to argue that the SIP “allows employers to take a leading role in achieving this objective. Ultimately, this initiative will help to preserve the UK’s reputation as a world leader in an extremely competitive area”.