What is The Technician's Commitment?
The Technician Commitment is a UK-wide initiative to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for all technicians working in higher education and research across all disciplines. The University of Glasgow is a signatory to the Technician Commitment and with over 1000 highly trained and qualified technicians at Glasgow, they make up a significant proportion of our University community, making a vital contribution to research, the training of PhD and postdoctoral researchers, and undergraduate teaching. The University recognises that through their skills, knowledge and professionalism our technicians provide a rich specialist resource we couldn’t live without.
Many challenges face our technical community in the years ahead, as science becomes more complex and interconnected and engineering requires increasingly high level practical technical skills in emerging fields and technologies. Moreover in the next ten years there will be a significant turnover of technical staff, as valued colleagues move on and new technicians join us with ever higher expectations of investment in their futures. Implementing the Technician Commitment will help us to ensure technical roles are an attractive, challenging and fulfilling career option for this, the next, and future generations. The Technician Commitment will challenge us to invest more deeply and in new ways in the career development and nurturing of the skills and talents of our technicians to ensure we attain a sustainable workforce and environment that enables all to fulfil their potential.
Who's behind it
The Technician Commitment is supported by the following organisations:
- The Science Council
- Technicians Make it Happen
- The Gatsby Charitable Foundation
- Sheffield's Technical Development & Modernisation Unit
- National Technician Development Centre
More than half of UK universities and several research institutes have signed up to the Technician Commitment. Some of the signatories for The Technician Commitment are listed below:
- The Russell Group
- University of Aberdeen
- The University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- University of St Andrews
- University of Stirling
- University of Strathclyde
Message from the Principal (2018)
It is perhaps something of a cliché to highlight the fact that Universities are complex organisations whose success depends on a network of interrelated, interconnected roles and responsibilities: take any element away, diminish the significance of any part, whether within the academic, support or service areas, and the whole suffers.
This document – The Technician Commitment – is not only an important reminder of one such community within the University network, but just as important, stands as a call to recognise the very real contribution our technicians make to the life, success and achievement of our Universities.
Technicians represent a significant proportion of any University community with around 9,000 working within the Russell group, over 630 in my own University representing just over 8% of our staff. They are a highly trained group of individuals with the great majority skilled to degree level or above. They play key roles through their support of, and contribution to, research, the training of PhD and postdoctoral researchers, and undergraduate teaching. More than that, as they pass on their knowledge and skills, so they equip each new generation of students with a range of abilities that not only enhance their career prospects, but the skills base of the future workforce whether in academia, research and development or industry. The work, knowledge and professionalism of our technicians, provide a rich skills resource we couldn’t live without.
Given Universities reliance on our technicians, it has been interesting to observe the way in which the drive to develop an Industrial Strategy for the UK, has been a catalyst to reenergise the longstanding debate and concerns around a skills deficit and how this might be addressed in a modern economy in a highly competitive world. These are debates and concerns we surely share. As Universities, we need to think carefully on how we maintain and sustain the pipeline of technical skills essential to our success. While there are many answers to this, not least our ability to attract talent from around the world, I think it underlines the critical importance of nurturing the talents of our technicians, now, ensuring that their roles are presented as an attractive, challenging and fulfilling career option for this, the next, and future generations of technicians.
This document aims to do just that by encouraging all of us involved in higher education to support and sign up to the commitment and so align ourselves with the five key drivers it promotes: Visibility, Recognition, Career Development, Sustainability and Evaluating Impact. It’s encouraging that so many in the sector and associated with it, have already signed up and I would certainly encourage others to follow suit. If there have been perceptions in the past that our technicians are either ‘undervalued’ or our ‘unsung heroes’, it is time to dispel and address these perceptions in real ways: the Technician Commitment shows the way forward and I commend it to you.