In my first update I outlined the objectives of the Technician Progression Project. I also encouraged you to get involved by promoting the work that technicians do. This is really important, as the situation will only improve for technical staff if technical staff drive the change. I'd love to hear from staff wanting to contribute to this blog by sharing their experiences. Please also subscribe to stay updated.
In this update I’ll share some of the key things we’re doing, and how you can give your opinion.
Your feedback through workshops last year set the direction of the current project. We now want to give the opportunity to respond and give your input into the project. In March we will hold an event for you to hear in more detail the work that has been happening. We will announce the details once these have been confirmed. To make sure the technician voice is heard we also want to expand some of the working groups and will be asking for volunteers.
We’re pleased to announce a conference for technical staff this summer. This will be on Tuesday 4 June and we'll release more details shortly. Please save the date! Guest speaker Kelly Vere (Technician Commitment Lead, Science Council) is active in promoting technical roles in higher education and research. She will be discussing the impact the Technician Commitment has made so far since its launch in 2017.
What do technicians do?
“A technician is a person who is skilled in the use of particular techniques and procedures to solve practical problems, often in ways that require considerable ingenuity and creativity. Technicians typically work with complex instruments and equipment, and require specialised training, as well as considerable practical experience, in order to do their job effectively.” Adapted from (Barley and Orr 1997: 12-15; OECD 2002: 92-94; Technician Council 2011). Lewis & Gospel 2011
The role of technical staff is often not well understood. One way we want to address this is to clearly define the role of technical staff at each grade and communicate this to the University community. We aim in the next few months to launch a hub on the website for technical staff. This will host structure charts, role profiles and other key information.
Standardising job titles and job descriptions for new appointments will make it easier for all staff to identify what technical staff do. This will also separate out management and specialist career paths. We are in discussion with other institutions, and this approach is in line with others in the sector.
Progression for technical staff
One of the key concerns raised by technicians has been the perceived absence of progression opportunities. Over the coming months we’ll be producing guidance to help you manage your career progression. You’ll also be hearing from colleagues about the paths their career has taken and how they got to where they are now. Another strand of this is that we are investigating the potential for a promotion pathway for technical staff.
Recruitment and reward
To address challenges with recruitment of technical staff, we’re reviewing how we word adverts and where we advertise. We’re investigating the feasibility of an employee referral scheme. Ensuring we have a robust interview process is also important to ensure candidates understand the role.
The University currently has a competitive reward package including contribution points, the rewarding excellence scheme, salary exchange schemes, flexible working and staff recognition awards. However, we'd like to find out if there is more we can offer, so keep an eye out for a survey seeking your views.