Gatsby, the Science Council and a Steering Board of key sector organisations last year launched the Technician Commitment for universities and research institutions. One year in, 75 institutions have pledged to transform how they support their technical staff: representing more than 50% of UK universities and a number of world-leading institutions.
David Sainsbury, Settlor of Gatsby, announced the publication of Technician Commitment: One year in at the Tower of London last night (6 November). The report documents key themes emerging across the sector – most notably a distinct change in culture driving the professionalisation of technician roles and formal recognition of the vital role of technicians working to enable research and teaching.
Speaking at the event David Sainsbury said: “What has been achieved in just the first year has exceeded all expectations. Rather than simply getting their house in order and putting a plan together, the vast majority of early signatories have forged ahead and already made significant changes. Demonstrable progress has been achieved both within institutions and across the sector more widely.”
Through the Technician Commitment, four key areas have been identified to improve and safeguard vital technical skills in higher education and research. A year after backing the Technician Commitment, signatories are required to complete a self-assessment exercise and submit a two-year action plan to the Technician Commitment steering board.
The steering board of sector bodies including Wellcome Trust, Advance HE and UKRI met earlier this year to assess progress towards delivering greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines.
The report shows that signatories have already initiated programmes of work to identify and develop clear career pathways for technical colleagues, and are demonstrating a desire to safeguard technical skills which has led to the development of new apprenticeships and opportunities to further drive talent.
The report received a positive reception at the Tower of London event, where a number of new signatories were also revealed including the University of Southampton and Durham University.
To date, the vast majority of Russell Group universities have backed the Commitment and the Group’s CEO, Dr Tim Bradshaw, spoke at the event: “Our members could not deliver world-class research, teaching and knowledge transfer without the work of skilled technical staff. The Technician Commitment will help ensure their contribution is fully recognised, and I am pleased that Russell Group universities have played a key role in driving this initiative forward.”
The voice of the technician workforce has been at the heart of the early success of the Commitment. Denise McLean, Senior Research Technician at Nottingham University, speaking at the event said: “The Technician Commitment is driving change and adding value, recognition, and sustainability to our community and on behalf of all technicians. We appreciate the investment, painstaking work and dedication of the individuals who laid their necks on the line and never hesitated in championing the invaluable work we have and will continue to accomplish each day. We are technicians and we Make it Happen.”
Download the Technician Commitment: One year in report here.