NTDC Specialist Advisor Mel Leitch recently attended the Technician event at Queen’s University Belfast – here is what he had to say about the event.
“On 19th June I had the pleasure of visiting the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science at Queen’s University Belfast, for a Technician Event. The event had been organised by Gillian Riddell and her team who are passionate about promoting and celebrating the work of Technicians within the University. I was warmly greeted by Gillian and efficiently whisked off to meet Prof Alan Stitt, Dean of Innovation and Impact along with Jane Banks from the Science Council. During this meeting it was clear to me that Queen’s University absolutely see the value of technical staff and fully appreciate how dependent they are on them to deliver the teaching and research outputs.
Queen’s University are signatories of the Technicians Commitment and are keen to fulfil their obligations. As part of this they recognise the importance of engaging with their technical staff and they are keen to hear about the experience of other HEIs and partners who are already someway down the same pathway. This set the Agenda for the day ahead.
The meeting was held in a lecture room which was well very attended not only by Technicians from the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences but also from other units and staff from HR. After a brief introduction from Prof Alan Stitt, Jane Banks, Business Development Officer for the Science Council, spoke about the Technician Commitment and Professional Registration. This was a great start as Jane’s talk provided the ideal foundations for the whole event and ensured we were all on the same page when it came to understanding the role of the Science Council and its initiatives.
Suhel Miah, HEaTED Programme Manager, then spoke about the importance of CPD and Networking in self-development and career progression. There were many elements of this talk which dovetailed into the professional registration talk by Jane. John-Paul Ashton, Social Media/Engagement Advisor and Executive sport Officer for the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) gave an excellent overview of the role of the IST as a professional body which is focussed on supporting its diverse members in so many ways from Professional Registration, training, networking and even hosts an annual National Conference which is in Newcastle upon Tyne this September.
I followed John-Paul to share the experience at Newcastle University which is already someway down the pathway of engaging with its technical staff through a bottom up approach. The thrust of this drive was initiated by TechNet which is now one of the tools on offer from the National Technician Development Centre (NTDC). The next step in Newcastle’s development is to utilise the NTDC Technicians skills audit and Career Pathways tools.
After slightly over running I found myself at lunch and chatting with a number of Technicians all facing similar issues to those of us on the mainland. What struck me about the event was the consistency of the message from all the presentations and the touch points between them. Hopefully this is the start of a culture change within the HE sector in recognising the work of Technicians.
Sadly, I had to make a quick exit to catch my flight, but Queen’s University had given me the most warm and special welcome, it was hugely appreciated. There are clearly have some amazing technical staff at Queen’s University which I hope to meet again as they continue their journey.”