The landscape for technical staff working in higher education in the UK is changing for the better. Here at Bath, Technical Managers and HR colleagues have been working over the past year to address some of the key issues highlighted by technicians in the faculties of Science and Engineering & Design, especially those around career development and opportunities for progression.
Progress to date
In July 2018 a week of CPD activities was held for technical staff. The aim was to provide a range of opportunities for development and networking, in the form of training, sharing knowledge and understanding through departmental lab tours, and to offer the chance to hear more about the wider work of the University through talks on different areas of research. This was well received and showed the enthusiasm of technicians for more like this. The feedback from this will be fed into future planning.
The Technician Progression Project has been formed, with the following key objectives:
- To standardise technical roles across the University by producing generic job descriptions and clear guidance around the skills and responsibilities expected at each grade
- To provide more opportunities for development by creating a regular programme of varied CPD events for technical staff, building on the work started by the week held in July
- To clarify progression routes for technical staff and investigate how existing progression routes can be improved.
- To improve the understanding of the role of technicians through clear definitions of what the technical profession does and through increased visibility of technicians.
- To address recruitment and retention issues by refining recruitment processes and through benchmarking salaries of comparable industry and HE roles.
As a result of this ongoing work the University has signed the Technician Commitment, a national universities and research institutions initiative pledging action against 4 key areas: visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability. The issues faced by the University are common across the UK, and this allows us to join with other institutions and work together to share best practise in this area. The Commitment ties in closely with the work we are already doing, and will ensure continued momentum over the coming years. As part of our Commitment, we will need to complete an action plan for submission in December 2019 outlining how we will address each of the four key themes over the following two years.
What’s happening now?
Each of the project’s objectives is being addressed by a team consisting of technicians, Technical Managers and HR colleagues.
The project teams have completed action plans and have already started work on addressing each of the themes. The target is to have completed the actions by the end of June 2019. Progress to that point will then feed into the Technician Commitment self-assessment and two-year action plan.
We will aim to issue regular updates on the status of the project, and the University’s Technician Commitment, and these will be communicated through University channels, including the staff homepage and via Technical Managers.
How can I get involved?
The success of the current project and of the Technician Commitment will depend on the level of engagement from all parts of our community. This is not something being done by ‘the University’ for technicians but by all levels of technical staff, and depends on involvement from other professional services and academic staff.
As a technician, you can help by getting the work technicians do known and more visible. Get involved in the work of the wider University by attending staff meetings and volunteering for relevant committees so that the voice of technicians is heard. Tell other staff about the work you do by writing posts for your faculty blog or posting photos on social media – the work of technicians is vital to the University, and fascinating!
Other staff can support technicians by acknowledging where their contributions have made a difference, getting to know who they are and what they do, and remembering to include them in communications and discussions. You and your teams will have particular skills or resources that you may be able to contribute to the work of the Technician Commitment, so please take an interest in the work as it progresses.
There will also be opportunities for all staff to be involved with various projects and activities as the work progresses so keep an eye out for updates.