About Us

About the National Technician Development Centre:

The National Technician Development Centre provides organisations with everything they need to support the delivery of high quality and sustainable technical services across all sectors.

This includes:

  • Our nationally recognised NTDC Toolkit
  • Specialist information and advice on talent recruitment and retention
  • Activities to increase professional registration and CPD
  • Help in developing technical networks
  • Bespoke workshops and presentations

The National Technician Development Centre was established in 2017 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, (now the Office for Students), to provide expertise and tools to the HE and related sectors to create a sustainable future for technical staff and services. In addition, this includes increasing the visibility and recognition of technical staff nationally.

Hosted by the University of Sheffield, the NTDC brings expertise and tools to support the development of formal technical career pathways and embed these strategies within institutions, to develop and modernise individual technical skill sets and identify future skill gaps and provide appropriate training and development opportunities.

The NTDC is a not-for-profit organisation and is co-funded by the University of Sheffield and Office for Students, providing guidance and advice freely. Delivery of specific services are fee based and organisations can benefit from being a Partner Affiliate.

Organisations do not need to be a partner affiliate of the NTDC to be a signatory or supporter of the Technician Commitment.

Organisations do not need to be a signatory or supporter of the Technician Commitment to engage the services of the NTDC.

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NTDC photo competition banner 2020

Why Does the Sector Need the NTDC?

The role of a technician has traditionally been neglected and misunderstood across every sector, and is often overlooked. Technicians of today are experts in their fields and are often highly qualified.

Despite HEFCE data suggesting there are over 65,000 technicians working in English and Scottish universities and research institutions, this lack of recognition often leads to their exclusion from strategic planning.

The technical workforce is often an untapped and under-utilised resource. As a result, the opportunities for technicians to formally develop skills and advance through career pathways are limited. One of the major contributors to this is a lack of consistency in technical roles and terminology, which we are aiming to combat with our Technical Career Pathways Tool.

These factors, along with the complexity and diversity of the technical sector, has also led to poor succession planning within the technical workforce. This has brought about a huge loss of critical skills across the sector.

For example, within England, HEFCE data shows that 40% of all Higher Education technicians are aged 50 or over. This suggests that succession planning and wider development of institutions’ technical workforces needs to be in place to ensure a highly skilled professional workforce for the future. Our Technician Skills, Roles and Responsibilities Audit enables institutions to capture information about their technical workforce to support a strategic approach to workforce planning.

A recent estimate by the Gatsby Foundation found that “we will need as many as 700,000 more technicians in the next decade to meet demand from employers.”

Whilst there are apprenticeships and traineeships designed to bring on new talent, there is no set framework to support individuals beginning their technical career, which is leading to a lack of consistency and organisation. Our Technician Development Framework supports institutions in the strategic development of their technical workforce.

CPD and professional registration are fundamental in recognising the skills and expertise of employees within technical services. This is why we teamed up with the Institute of Science and Technology to develop CPD Central, an open-access piece of software designed as a platform for the recording and monitoring of CPD for individuals and institutions, inline with the national standard for professional registration.

Why Does the Sector Need the NTDC?

The role of a technician has traditionally been neglected and misunderstood across every sector, and is often overlooked. Technicians of today are experts in their fields and are often highly qualified.

Despite HEFCE data suggesting there are over 65,000 technicians working in English and Scottish universities and research institutions, this lack of recognition often leads to their exclusion from strategic planning.

The technical workforce is often an untapped and under-utilised resource. As a result, the opportunities for technicians to formally develop skills and advance through career pathways are limited. One of the major contributors to this is a lack of consistency in technical roles and terminology, which we are aiming to combat with our Technical Career Pathways Tool.

These factors, along with the complexity and diversity of the technical sector, has also led to poor succession planning within the technical workforce. This has brought about a huge loss of critical skills across the sector.

For example, within England, HEFCE data shows that 40% of all Higher Education technicians are aged 50 or over. This suggests that succession planning and wider development of institutions’ technical workforces needs to be in place to ensure a highly skilled professional workforce for the future. Our Technician Skills, Roles and Responsibilities Audit enables institutions to capture information about their technical workforce to support a strategic approach to workforce planning.

A recent estimate by the Gatsby Foundation found that “we will need as many as 700,000 more technicians in the next decade to meet demand from employers.”

The NTDC Core Team:

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Terry
Croft MBE

Founding Director

Terry began his career as an Analytical Chemist for a multinational mining company, where he developed new analytical techniques and procedures as instrumentation technology advanced. He moved to the University of Sheffield to work as the Chief Technician in the Botany Department. Over the next eight years he continued to advance, becoming Departmental Manager of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. All the while championing the need for a more professional approach to the training and development of technicians in the HE sector, Terry received several more promotions before undertaking the role of Faculty Director of Operations.

Terry’s passion and commitment to the Technical Community lead to his appointment as Director of Technical Development and Modernisation at the University of Sheffield in 2013. In 2014, he was awarded a three-year Catalyst Grant by HEFCE to undertake the TDM Project, which covered a variety of issues affecting Higher Education Institutions. In December 2017 he was awarded £1.125m to launch the NTDC for technicians and their employers.

Terry was awarded an MBE for services to humanity after he rescued an academic colleague and his family from the violence occurring in Iraq in 1992. He was named ‘One of the Top 100 Leading Scientists 2014’ and awarded Chartered Scientist status by the Science Council. He is also the Chairman of the Institute of Science and Technology.

Mel Leitch

Director

Mel has been a technician at Newcastle University since 1984. He was appointed to a full-time technical post in the Department of Physiological Sciences after beginning as a trainee technician. He later moved to the Department of Psychiatry, working within a Research Unit tasked with investigating the biological mechanisms of depression.

Whilst working as a Research Technician he graduated from the Open University with a first class degree in Chemistry and Life Science. He then studied part time for an MPhil, which investigated the impact of stress hormones on the function of a particular receptor in the brain shown to be blunted in depression. The project had a great outcome and led to various publications and presentations at international conferences. He then spent thirteen years as a Technical Manager at Newcastle University before he became the Deputy Head of Infrastructure in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University.

Mel became involved with promoting professional registration at Newcastle University and gained the status of Chartered Scientist through the IST in 2014. He was recognised for his successes and was given the Employer Champion Award in 2016. In establishing an internal technicians networking group, NU TechNet, he also paved the way for Newcastle University to become a founding signatory of the Technician Commitment in 2017.

Caleb Wright

Deputy Director

Caleb Wright is the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager at the University of Birmingham and is responsible for the development and delivery of the University’s Apprenticeship Strategy for its own workforce.

Caleb is Co- Chair of the Higher Education Trailblazer Consortium and a member of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network and the West Midlands Apprentice Ambassador Network.

Caleb has 12 years’ experience in Human Resource Management (HRM) in both the Higher Education and Third sector. Caleb holds a Masters in HRM and is an alumnus of the University of Manchester.

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Dr Sara Bacon

Centre Manager

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BSc(Hon) in Chemistry, Sara completed a PhD in Bioinorganic Chemistry. She then moved into industry working for Croda Chemicals as a research chemist, and then as a product development manager in the research and development of personal care products.

She then became a data manager, where she managed a team on the implementation of new systems to increase efficiency and improve productivity within the company. She has also worked in a consultancy firm developing surveys and in recruitment assessment for the police. More recently, Sara has worked in teaching, recruitment and liaison roles across the secondary education and higher education sector.

Sara joined the NTDC as Centre Manager in May 2019: “Having worked with technicians in industry, teaching, outreach and recruitment I appreciate the huge impact that technicians have on income generation and in enhancing the student experience by providing high quality research and teaching support.”

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Jared Carnie

Operations Manager and Skills Audit Officer

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BSc(Hon) in Chemistry, Sara completed a PhD in Bioinorganic Chemistry. She then moved into industry working for Croda Chemicals as a research chemist, and then as a product development manager in the research and development of personal care products.

She then became a data manager, where she managed a team on the implementation of new systems to increase efficiency and improve productivity within the company. She has also worked in a consultancy firm developing surveys and in recruitment assessment for the police. More recently, Sara has worked in teaching, recruitment and liaison roles across the secondary education and higher education sector.

Sara joined the NTDC as Centre Manager in May 2019: “Having worked with technicians in industry, teaching, outreach and recruitment I appreciate the huge impact that technicians have on income generation and in enhancing the student experience by providing high quality research and teaching support.”

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Jake Green

Research and Survey Officer

Jake joined the Centre in December 2018, after graduating from The University of Sheffield with a degree in International Relations and Politics. He possesses a background in data analytics and administration, having previously worked in Alumni Engagement and Security Analyst roles at the University of Sheffield and IBM respectively.

Jake’s role as Survey Officer involves data capture and analysis to support the continued development and roll-out of the survey. As part of the Survey Team Jake guides institutions throughout the survey process, creating bespoke surveys to suit their needs.

“Having not come from an academic discipline where technical staff are prevalent, I never fully appreciated the contribution they make to the HE sector. I feel privileged to work in a team that has so much knowledge and experience geared towards bettering the working lives of such a large and vital part of the Higher Education community.”

Harriet Grant

Administration Officer

Harriet joined the team in 2021 as an integral part of the administrative and operations team.

Harriet brings a wealth of administration experience to the team as well as a customer service background.

As the Administration Officer for HEaTED, Harriet supports all aspects of the operational administration functions and is always happy to assist with your questions and support you in whatever way she can.

Whilst there are apprenticeships and traineeships designed to bring on new talent, there is no set framework to support individuals beginning their technical career, which is leading to a lack of consistency and organisation. Our Technician Development Framework supports institutions in the strategic development of their technical workforce.

CPD and professional registration are fundamental in recognising the skills and expertise of employees within technical services. This is why we teamed up with the Institute of Science and Technology to develop CPD Central, an open-access piece of software designed as a platform for the recording and monitoring of CPD for individuals and institutions, inline with the national standard for professional registration.

NTDC Specialist Advisors

Matt Levi

Matt Levi

Ian Tidmarsh

Ian Tidmarsh

Chris Turgoose

Chris Turgoose

Denise Mclean

Denise Mclean

Denise McLean is Senior Research Technician in the School of Life Sciences and the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre at the University of Nottingham.

Additional roles held by Denise, include
- The University of Nottingham Executive Board - subcommittee member for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
- Lead for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion - TALENT programme at Midlands Innovation

These roles demonstrate her passion for creating opportunities and a diverse and sustainable technical workforce.

She is currently a Specialist Advisor for the National Technician Development Centre and has been helping to address the disparities that exist in our technical community.

Denise McLean

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Natalie Kennerley

Strategy Consultant

Natalie worked at University of Sheffield for more than 28 years, beginning as a trainee technician and ending as the Technical Manager for Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology. During this time, she was recruited to the TDM Project by Terry as Co-Project Manager. Natalie is now the Technical Services Development Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University. She works closely with the Head of Technical Services and in partnership with PVCs and other senior members of staff to develop a Technical Services Organisational and Development Strategy that integrates and aligns with the strategic business goals of the University.

She is a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Institute of Science and Technology, where she has an active involvement as Secretary and Public Relations Officer. She is also an assessor for professional registration for the IST and the Science Council. Her passion for the promotion of technicians as highly skilled experts lead her to co-found TechNet, a national technical networking group.

Natalie became the Deputy Director of the NTDC in January 2019 and was appointed the title of Director in August 2019 when Terry undertook his new role of Founding Director.

Natalie Kennerely

Lucy Hudson

Lucy Hudson

I am the Technical Manager for the Department of Biology at the University of York, where I have worked for 30 years. As a technician I took a vocational career path, working across the bioscience research disciplines, from cancer to plants and immunology, from technician to laboratory manager. I manage the technical support, specialist services and facilities for more than 1,100 undergraduates, 150 researchers, 70 academics and 90 technicians.

I am a member of the University Technician Commitment Steering Group and Chair the Delivery Group, and I am a Trustee of the Royal Society of Biology.

As a partner affiliate we received advice and support from the NTDC in 2018, to write and implement standard job descriptors for all technical grades at York, using the NTDC’s HETT Framework. These descriptors were published in February 2019 and have been in a great success for technicians, line and recruiting managers, and I am keen to share our experience, why and how we developed these descriptors with other HEs.

Lucy Hudson

Arthur Nicholas NTDC Specialist Advisor

Arthur Nicholas

My career began as a 16 yr. old Trainee Technician. Underpinned by part-time study and CPD, my career developed as a professional Scientist and Management practitioner. It encompassed five emblematic activities: Science; Services; Structures (Buildings); Sustainability and Safety. Throughout, I have been a strong advocate of the Technician profession. This advocacy continues through my professional activities as: Vice President of the University Bioscience Managers’ Association (UBMA); Trustee of the Science Council and Executive Committee member of the Institute of Science and Technology (IST).

As a Specialist Advisor, I will draw on my professional development and career experience to assist the NTDC in delivering an improved career environment for the new generation of professional Technicians.

Email: arthur.nicholas@alumni.manchester.ac.uk

Arthur Nicholas

Laurence Dawkins Hall

Laurence Dawkins Hall

My interest in communicating Science, coupled with formal Teacher Training (PGCE) at the University of Oxford led me to become a Chartered Scientist (CSci) and a Chartered Biologist (CBiol). For the last 3 years, I have taught students at the University of Leicester. Outside my day job, I am an Applicant Support Mentor for the Science Council, providing registration workshops, in person and online, for standard graduate applicants and Apprentices, and also on line learning materials pertaining to registration. I am also the principal Registration Mentor and Assistant Registrar to the IST, providing similar registration workshops, mentoring and representation of the IST at National Forums. In addition, I am a Fellow of the IST and sit of the Fellowship Committee. Finally, I assess registration scrips for the IST, RSB and Science Council and CBiol applications for the RSB. It is my intention to mirror these responsibilities in my role as Special Advisor on Registration and STEM for the NTDC

Email: l.dawkins-hall@ScienceCouncil.org

Laurence Dawkins Hall

Keith Hill

Jonny Woolsey

Abid Qayum

Ben Scott

James Davoll

James Davoll

James has worked as the technical manager within the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University since 2014. He leads a team of 17 specialist
technicians across 3 departments.

With a background in lecturing James contributes to teaching taught programs across his School.

As a member of Newcastle’s Technician Commitment Steering Group and several institutional boards and committees. James champions raising the visibility of technicians contribution to teaching and is a strong advocate for technicians gaining fellowship to AdvanceHE. James continues his own creative practice,
working on several research projects as PI and Co-I.

Email: james.davoll@ncl.ac.uk

James Davoll

Linda Robinson

Linda Robinson

Linda has over 30+ years’ of experience in learning and development. She joined Newcastle University’s Staff Development Unit in 1992 and has since had significant experience of working as an internal consultant and facilitator during large and small scale change within the organisation.

Linda’s role and contribution has grown significantly over recent years. As Organisational Development Lead for Professional Services she in now responsible for learning and development activity and acts as an internal consultant, providing advice, guidance and support on all aspects of OD, including cultural transformation, change management, staff engagement and continuous performance improvement for the Professional Services within Newcastle University. Linda is a member of the British Psychological Society as well as the Learning and Performance Institute. She possesses the British Psychological Society’s Level A & B and is accredited to use a range of psychometric tools.

Linda Robinson

Chris Bacon

Martin Farley

Martin started as a lab technician and researcher, but his passion for sustainability led him to become the Europe’s first green lab specialist at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. After he moved south to London where he founded Green Lab Associates. He’s since initiated green lab programs at UCL, and King’s College London. He has developed the LEAF green lab standard at UCL, where he works as their Sustainable Lab Advisor.

Martin Farley

NTDC Governance Board Members:

Chair: Professor Sir Keith Burnett, CBE, FRS, President of the Science Council and Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation

Professor Jonathan Seville, CEng, FIChemE, FREng, Academic Director of the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory and Professor of Chemical Engineering, The University of Birmingham

Dr Karen Henderson, PhD, CSci, Director of Technical Services, The University of Reading

Dr Tony Strike, University Secretary, Director of Strategy and Governance, The University of Sheffield

Joan Ward, FIScT, Deputy Chair Institute of Science and Technology and Trustee of the Science Council

Dr Claire Hutton, Senior Research Technician, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, The University of Newcastle

Professor Andy Gibson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University

Plus co-opted members as required