We are working with industry and professional bodies to agree a common standard of knowledge, expertise and competency for registered technicians
We believe that a robust set of professional registers for technicians will help to give technician occupations the status they deserve.
The occupations and professions with the strongest reputations gain their status and identity from the public, not from government or its agencies. These professions prize highly their independence and, crucially, they use professional standards and schemes of professional registration as a means of self-regulation. All training and qualifications must meet these standards, which guarantees a minimum level of occupational competence and reinforces the strength of the profession and its reputation amongst the public.
While technician registers have existed in a limited form for a number of years, we are working with professional bodies in science, engineering and technology to expand this activity and make professional registration for technicians the new norm.
In the past, much of the emphasis around STEM skills has been on increasing the supply and quality of science graduates, but more recently attention has turned to science technicians. However, there is no single science technician role. Science technicians undertake a wide range of jobs at different levels, commanding different salaries and assuming varying levels of supervisory and managerial responsibility. The pathways into technician grade posts are also varied, ranging from traditional academic, through vocational to work-based learning routes, including apprenticeships. Furthermore, while for some a technician role is an aspiration, for others, it represents a rung on the career ladder to becoming a scientist.
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.
Registration is awarded by Licensed Bodies, professional bodies of the Science Council and consists of scientific knowledge, competence and commitment to high standards of professionalism.
It is clear that if the UK is to remain competitive in the future we will need to improve the supply and quality of science technicians; science technician registration has the potential to make a key contribution in raising the status and profile of science technicians and developing the training pathways that lead to these roles.
Professionally registered engineering technicians (EngTech) are the driving force of engineering feats that are changing the world we live in. ‘EngTechs’ are working on everything from Crossrail to vital systems for the Royal Navy.
There is a well-established technician registration scheme licensed by the Engineering Council, with registered EngTech technicians benefitting from improved recognition, earnings potential and career prospects, and through opportunities to network and access professional development. Engineering is a diverse discipline, and the number of professional bodies that an engineering technician can join reflects this. The Engineering Council licenses 32 professional engineering institutions to assess members for registration as an EngTech.
Over the last five years, we have supported a number of initiatives to promote and encourage professional registration for engineering technicians.
Visit www.engc.org.uk/engtech for more information on professional registration as an engineering technician.
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has developed a new standard that will provide a recognised vendor-neutral certification for those employed in the IT profession.
Registered IT Technician, RITTech, demonstrates an individual’s competence in both a core knowledge of IT and at least one specialist skill area, together with their commitment to a professional code of conduct.
Gatsby supported a scoping study to explore the potential for an IT Technician register. The issues addressed included the:
- rationale for an individual to seek certification of their competence in the IT sector;
- demand from employers for registration;
- range and level of competences that should be assessed through registration.
Informed by the scoping study, BCS has consulted with employers to draw up standards for registered RITTech. These standards are comparable with those for registered engineering (EngTech) and science (RSCiTech) technicians.
In addition, new apprenticeships in the digital industries, an early Trailblazer for the government’s apprenticeship reforms, have been aligned with the standard for Registered IT Technician. This will enable an individual who successfully completes a new apprenticeship to also be eligible to join the register, adding to the formal recognition of apprenticeships as a valuable route to the IT profession.
Unionlearn is the learning and skills arm of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Its primary aim is to help unions promote learning and skills in the workplace through its network of Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) and grants from its Union Learning Fund.
As representatives of individuals in the workplace, professional registration is an area of natural and significant interest to trade unions. However, currently very few unions - and none of the major unions in the science, engineering and technology (SET) sectors - actively promote technician registration to their members and other workers in unionised workplaces. We feel it is important this is addressed given both the breadth of influence unions have within the SET sectors and the benefits union members could gain from registration.
Since 2012, we have been supporting Unionlearn in its efforts to develop greater awareness of technician registration within the union movement, strengthen the relationships between unions and professional bodies, and ultimately increase the number of registered technicians working in a range of SET sectors.
We are pleased to have agreed a second phase of funding for this project. In addition to the core work that will be continued by Unionlearn, we are also supporting a project by Prospect, the union that represents STEM professionals. Prospect will be helping a number of STEM employers to register their technicians, while also supporting workplace training and development for its technician members.
The Technician Workforce
Technicians are the linchpins of the UK economy. They will be integral to overcoming some of the great challenges of the coming years and decades – from updating our transport infrastructure and local internet access, to securing the future of our energy supply.
Apprenticeships are an excellent way to train the next generation of technicians. That’s why we are working with our partners to help increase the quantity and quality of STEM apprenticeships in the UK.
Providing Technical Education
The UK has a well-documented shortage of STEM technicians to satisfy demand for both new and replacement roles. Technical education offers young people a clear route from school into rewarding technician occupations, and progression to higher education for those who wish to do so.