Technicians Network meeting July 2018

Regional network meetings are a great opportunity to meet technical staff from other institutions. Here is a report by Angela Beddows from the July meeting in Sheffield.


Higher Education and Technician's Educational Development (HEaTED)

I attended the HEaTED Northern regional network event in July as it focussed on the Technician Commitment. The University of Leeds signed up to the Technician Commitment last year and the Commitment committee have been working on your behalf to help get it implemented. The meeting covered 4 of the 5 main areas of the Technician Commitment: Visibility, Recognition, Career Development and Sustainability.

The day started with John-Paul Ashton from the Institute of Science and Technology speaking about the ‘Technicians’ Commitment – what’s it all about? A case study from the University of Sheffield’ which was helpful as I realised they had, and were having the same problems we are. Amongst which were defining what a technician is and identifying how many technicians they had in their organisation given that the roles have so many different job titles (Sheffield University alone had 338 job titles which were essentially technicians of all descriptions.) He showed which route they took for the latter which may also be of use to us here in Leeds.

Jane Ginniver, HEaTED Regional Network Coordinator did a worthwhile section on “Visibility - influencing and raising your own profile” which after discussion came up with some  good ideas for raising the  profile of technicians within their workplace with the emphasis on networking and improving the support of key stakeholders. 

Another useful section was from Suhel Miah, the HEaTED Programme Manager, who ran a session on professional development. We brainstormed ideas and worked out what we can do to raise the profile and recognition of technicians, which helped me realise which things I could realistically implement (such as having a technician featured in the in house Reporter magazine) and also where HEaTED could provide support.

Finally, Karen Bailey-Smith from the National Technicians Development Centre (which is based in Sheffield) gave us an update of current activity from them and the work they do with a range of universities including supporting the introduction of the nationally developed structure to support career progression and also HE technician apprenticeships. However, discussion afterwards did highlight that some of the basic useful things they offered were behind a website paywall which makes them harder to access. Aside from that the main topics highlighted were Professional Registration (which provides the opportunity for targeted career progression & promotes self-reflection amongst other things), mentoring, CPD activities, HEI careers and internal training courses.

Overall it was lovely to see how far the HE sector has progressed towards the professionalising and recognition of technicians. Research by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation has often said the UK needs 700,000 more technicians by 2020 both within HE and across all sectors. Greater recognition of technicians may lead to more people considering it as a career.

By Angela Beddows

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