Universities lead project to deliver largest ever investment into HE technicians
A new project led by a consortium of eight Midlands-based universities and industry partners is to shine a light on the expertise of their technical community by delivering a package of measures to support their career advancement and development.
Midlands Innovation’s £4.99 million TALENT programme is the largest ever investment into technicians in higher education, whose specialist skills often go unrecognised despite the crucial role they play in the success of universities and the growth of the UK economy.
As a highly skilled workforce, around 30,000 technicians currently underpin research, teaching, knowledge transfer and innovation at UK universities and many are researchers and educators, teaching and training students and researchers at every level.
Announcing the programme, UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
“Technicians play a vital role across our universities, research centres and industry sectors. It is great to see that Midlands Innovation is leading the way in supporting technicians who work so hard across the UK to teach students and underpin innovation.”
The four-year project is being led by Kelly Vere, Higher Education Engagement Management at the Science Council and Director of Technical Skills and Strategy, at the University of Nottingham.
Kelly commented: “Advances in research and innovation are a team effort. Technicians are vital members of these teams but have been described as the ‘invisible workforce’ and across the country we have an identified shortage of technical skills and roles. The sector lacks effective understanding of the role of technicians and strategic insight into future technical skills requirements.
Through our collaborative programme TALENT, we’ll be generating new insight and knowledge on future sector skills requirements, investing in the development of our technical community and tackling the cultural challenges facing technicians. We’re thrilled to be working collaboratively with a number of partners on the TALENT programme, all committed to ensuring status and opportunity for the technical community”.
TALENT is underpinned by a grant of more than £3 million from the Research England Development Fund. The rest of the funding will be provided by the consortium university members as well as key partners including the Science Council, Technician Commitment, Wellcome Trust, British Geological Survey, Rolls Royce plc, Unilever and Midlands Engine.
It builds on considerable work already undertaken by Midland Innovation to advance the technician agenda, including the signing of the Technician Commitment by all consortium institutions in 2017, the establishment of the UK Higher Education Technicians Summit; a national conference for technical staff working in higher education and research, and the Papin Prizes, a series of awards to publicly recognise technical excellence in academia, as well as piloting a collaborative placement programme to enable career development opportunities for our technical staff.