Talent of technicians recognised at 2015 Higher Education Technicians’ Summit

1 July 2015 Kate Ford

Gatsby joined universities across the Midlands to celebrate the work of the technicians who underpin university life at the inaugural 2015 Higher Education Technicians’ Summit on Tuesday 30 June. The Summit was held in association with the research and innovation collaboration of the six leading Midlands universities and the Science Council.

Kelly Vere, Conference Chair, said: “The Summit is the first of its kind – celebrating the achievements, skills and expertise of university technical staff. We are thrilled to have attracted inspirational speakers and the support of a number of learned societies and organisations, all of whom are fully committed to the professional recognition of technicians in higher education and beyond."

The Summit offered information and workshops on how to gain professional registration, discussing how registration can support technicians in achieving the status they deserve. With support from Gatsby, The Science Council has established Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) and Registered Scientist (RSci) alongside the established Chartered Scientist (CSci) award to create a framework of professional registration across the science workforce.

Rachael Watkins, a technician at the University of Manchester said: “The summit has created a sense of community within the technical pool. It has given people the chance to come out, meet new technicians and see that technical roles can be a career not just a job. If you stripped out the technician workforce at the University of Manchester the work would stop. This event has really brought the message home that technicians are essential.”

The skills, talent and experience of technicians were celebrated via the inaugural Papin Prizes, which were given to individual technicians across the Midlands region who have demonstrated excellence.

The consortium attracted over 400 guests, who heard from high-profile keynote speakers including; Dr Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, now Technical Manager at Kingston University and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick and Chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group.

Dr Sharman said: “Technicians are usually the unsung heroes and heroines of university life. More than just enabling practical laboratory classes and research, technicians are the glue without which huge chunks of university life would fall apart. Properly recognising technical skills and ensuring full developmental support will ensure universities benefit fully from this wealth of resource.”

Lord Bhattacharyya said: “Technicians play a vital role in supporting STEM subjects in universities and contribute enormously to research, education and outreach activities. I am delighted to see that education and apprenticeship opportunities for technical roles have increased over recent years, and this will encourage more young people to embark on a technical career.”

Visit our professional registration for technicians page for more information on our work in this area.