Viewpoint: 101 jobs that change the world

101 jobs that change the world

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser introduces a new campaign that recognises and celebrates the diverse jobs in research and innovation.

What do a chef, a technician and an administrator have in common? They are all one of the 101 jobs in research and innovation that change the world.

At the beginning of February I wrote a blog on why the popular image of researchers and innovators as Einstein-like ‘lone geniuses’ may deter many people from pursuing a career in research and innovation, and contributes to researchers and innovators feeling under pressure and isolated.

The lone genius perception makes research and innovation appear remote and exclusive. It looks unattractive and unwelcoming to the diverse people that the system needs, and it inhibits the collaborative, supportive research culture we need to catalyse creative discovery and innovation.

There are hardly any domains of research and innovation where it is possible to make progress as a lone genius. Research and innovation needs a diverse range of researchers and innovators, but also many people working with them to drive progress. The range of skills and talents needed to foster the world-class innovation system the UK needs is huge and under-recognised. To highlight some of the many roles that contribute to success, in collaboration with the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Amanda Solloway, we launched the 101 jobs campaign. We invited suggestions from across the research and innovation system of people who work – often behind the scenes – in the huge variety of roles that together represent the many fulfilling career paths in research and innovation beyond the traditional image of a researcher or innovator.

We want to show people thinking about their first or their next career move that within research and innovation there are countless fascinating and rewarding roles that don’t conform to the stereotype of boffins locked away in shiny labs or dusty archives. We want to celebrate the essential contributions that all these people are making. And we want to highlight to everyone that researchers and innovators are not alone.

Overwhelming response

There has been a huge response to my request for contributions. To date we have received over 500 emails from a range of organisations, and suggestions have come from a wide range of individuals, institutions and countries. The request has really struck a chord with people who are sometimes seen as being at the fringes of research and innovation, when really they are at its heart. We have heard from lab staff and archivists, data engineers and grant administrators, beekeepers and glass blowers. They each play pivotal roles in research and innovation, changing the world for the better.

Many of the suggestions have been prompted by leaders of universities and UKRI institutes who shared my first blog with their staff encouraging them to get involved. Thank you for responding so positively.

Showcasing 101 jobs

Over the past months a team within UKRI has been working on producing video and other content to showcase some of the inspiring people and roles in research and innovation. These include a chef at a research station in Antarctica, a research administrator in Kenya, teams who manage STFC’s largest facilities and the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation herself, Amanda Solloway MP.

These films offer a glimpse into the lives of the varied people who are working across the research and innovation system, some in remote or unusual locations. Their jobs are essential to the creative, dynamic research and innovation system we need, and they really do change the world.

We are launching the first three of these films today and each week we will feature more jobs and profile more key people. We will endeavour to show as many of these roles as possible during this year.

Our films on 101 jobs that change the world will feature on a dedicated page on the UKRI website and we’ll publish them through all our social media channels including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Please do share the films with your contacts and get in touch with us if you have any comments.

NOTEThis is the first phase of our new website – let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.