The Government Office for Science has commissioned a benchmarking study of pay for scientists and engineers outside government to help it develop a new pay framework for civil service specialists.
The review will look at the job market for scientists and engineers in academia, industry and the wider public sector, according to a contract notice published last week.
“An external pay benchmarking exercise is needed in order to provide evidence and data on specialist scientists and engineers outside of government,” the notice says.
“This data is essential for building a detailed business case to justify and support the development of a reward framework for the government science and engineering profession.”
GO-Science, which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will use the data to consider how a new framework could help departments address issues with recruiting and retaining specialist staff.
Management consultancy Korn Ferry is carrying out the review, and will complete the work this month.
BEIS is paying the consultancy £18,500 for the five-week project.
Since being appointed government chief scientific adviser in 2018, Sir Patrick Vallance has said on several occasions that he wants to boost the government’s “under-utilised” science and engineering profession, both by making it more visible and through HR practices.
Vallance, who is also head of the GSE profession, told a committee of MPs in December 2018 that this work would focus on four areas: diversity and inclusion; raising the profile of science and engineering in and outside government; talent management and leadership; and reward and recognition.
“That is an area where we do need more resource, because we cannot run the whole Government Science and Engineering profession out of the very small resource we get,” he said at the time.
The exercise comes after a 2017 review by Vallance’s predecessor, Sir Mark Walport, of pay and reward for the whole science and engineering profession. That review was commissioned after a 2016 GSE profession strategy noted that specialists “often perceive that their pay is lower than equivalent roles” outside the civil service. However, it noted that reliable and comprehensive data was scarce.
It added that some specialist areas also suffered from recruitment and retention issues and that “better access to turnover data” was required.