Technicians Make it Happen at Manchester Metropolitan University

By 23rd April 2019 Blog, News
James - MMU Engineering Level 3 apprentice
Image: MMU Engineering Level 3 apprentice, James

Dr Kate Dixon, Head of Technical Services at Manchester Metropolitan University, outlines below some initiatives in place at Manchester Met enabling Technical Services to overcome the national technical skills shortage.

At Man Met, the Technical Services directorate employs 250 highly skilled and highly qualified technicians. Technicians are vital to delivering learning and teaching, research and industry collaboration across a broad spectrum of subjects within STEM, creative and digital subject areas.  

Technicians are the skilled workforce who ensure laboratories, workshops, theatres, edit suites, specialist computer labs and TV and radio studios are equipped with innovative technology.  Technicians provide the interface between a good idea and practical reality by guiding and making new technology accessible. Technical staff are vital to Man Met’s mission to educate industry ready graduates.

Industry is becoming ever more technology enabled.  With this in mind, the technology relevant aspects of Manchester Met’s courses and estate are becoming ever more important as we strive to ensure our graduates are work ready and our research facilities are cutting-edge, relevant and open to the wider business community.  

Our technology profile is of particular importance to many businesses wishing to set-up collaborative ventures and our technology portfolio relies directly upon the decision-making and knowledge of our technicians; this is another demonstration of the pivotal role technicians play within our University ecosystem.

In the UK 50,000 technicians are retiring every year and forecasts show UK PLC will need as many as 700,000 more technicians in the coming decade to meet demand from employers (Gatsby Foundation).  Manchester Met mirrors this national statistic; we have an ageing technician workforce of which 20% of our technicians across the University are retirement ready in the next 3-5 years.

In Manchester, our local digital, biotech, engineering and creative industry sectors are performing well and competition to attract skilled technicians into Manchester Met’s workforce is fierce. These factors combine to create a perfect storm– demand for technicians to work at our University has never been higher for all the reasons stated above and the competition across the region to attract technical talent is high.

Man Met is utilising the Apprentice Levy to respond to these challenges and to create a talent pipeline of technicians.

  1. All of our technicians are offered the opportunity to be lifelong learners, enroll on CPD and, supported by the apprentice levy, undertake level 6 in-house degree courses, studying and developing their skills while they are in work.
  2. Working in partnership with a local Further Education College the service recruited a number of level 3, post 18 Technical Apprentices.  The apprentice technicians work across the University 4 days per week and attend college one day per week achieving qualifications as they work.

In summary, using the Apprenticeship Levy ensures Technical Service teams are resourced to make a full contribution to the success of Manchester Met:

  1.    We produce Industry ready graduates with cutting edge technology related skills passed on by professional technicians
  2.    We maintain a cutting edge technology portfolio
  3.    We attract and retain talented technicians to our workforce