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National Technician Commitment


What is it all about?

Queen’s University Belfast is a founding signatory of the National Technician Commitment and pledge action against the key challenges affecting their technical staff ensuring visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability.

Meet the Steering Group >

Action Plan

  • Visibility
    Ensure that all technicians within the organisation are identifiable and that the contribution of technicians is visible within and beyond the institution
    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End
    Identify numbers and locations of all technicians across the University This has been challenging because there has been significant school and Faculty re structuring of the University in recent years. In addition, there many staff who are not on obvious “technical” grades but nevertheless are performing technical roles. Likewise, in some schools and directorates we have technical staff who are performing essential administrative roles albeit on technical grades. In most cases, the basis for this change in role was a response to cover an essential activity with highly competent staff. There has been an initial look at technician numbers, in particular looking at permanent and fixed term contracts. This was started in MHLS will be investigated by People & Culture at institutional level. It has been decided that at this time we will only include those staff members who are identified by the University as being in the Technician category and those with technical job titles Technical Managers / People & Culture May-19 Jul-19
    Fully engage with our technical staff in a more consistent manner In MHLS an initial Technician Forum was held and then followed up with formation of a Technician Committee with representation of all technical grades and from all areas of the Faculty. This committee, chaired by the Dean of Innovation and impact, meets monthly and deals primarily with the themes of the Technician Commitment. The QUB Technician Commitment Steering Group has been formed and plans to meet regularly to discuss the issues brought by the technical community. The SG includes a PVC (UEB representative), Technical Lead, technicians, Senior Faculty academics, People & Culture, Unite representative. Review every 2 years and make changes if necessary.EPS, AHSS have also formed a technician committee similar to that in MHLS. Each committee has members across grades and areas and tries to address issues raised by technicians within each Faculty. Ideas and concerns will be fed up to the QUB Technician Commitment Steering Group by their nominated representative(s). Potential rotation of technical staff on committee, reviewed every 2 years. Formation of a University wide Technical managers forum, to discuss ways of becoming more involved in relevent strategic areas and activities. QUBTCSG  Jan-19  May-19 
    Inform technicians of the Technician Commitment values MHLS held a Technician Event in June 2018, with 100 from 130 faculty technicians attending. Hosted by Professor Alan Stitt, Dean of Innovation and Impact, there were presentations given by Jane Banks (Science Council), Suhel Miah (HEaTED), Mel Leitch (University of Newcastle) and John Paul Ashton (IST). The guest speakers provided information on the Technician Commitment, the support offered by different organisations and how this is moving forward in other institutions.EPS has held two more Technical Services staff events in September 2017 and March 2018, with approximately 70 staff at each event. A University wide event was held on 9 January 2019, attended by the Vice Chancellor, technicians and invited guests. There were presentations from Prof Ian Greer (VC, QUB), Mark Price (PVCEPS, Institutional Lead for the TC at QUB), Claire McAlinden (Director of Operations, EPS), Natalie Kennerley (NTDC), Mel Leitch (IST) & Karen Henderson (University of Reading).We plan to hold a follow up event June 2019 to update our technicians on progress and plans for the TC at Queen's.We hope to organise a Technican Showcase to publicise the work carried out by technicans across the University. If successful this could become an annual event. QuTCSG Jun-19 Dec-19
    Review with new Vice Chancellor one year on from signature and plan a one year anniversary event. A presentation to the VC and senior University Managers regarding progress in all areas. To present September/Oct 2019 UEB Representative Sep-18 Sep-19
    We will create a team involving staff from all three faculties to develop our Technician Commitment webpage to ensure that it publicises our commitment to technical services staff and that it is also an effective tool for the team and we will assign resources to support that team do develop it. The website will raise visibility of technical staff, celebrate success and help staff to access useful resources will create online technical biographies or posters: For each technician advertising areas, skills, interests, location, publications, achievements, outreach activities, awards, etc Initial target to get a Comms team in place. Volunteers from across all areas of the University. QuTCSG 19-May Jun-19
    We will support the establishment of a Technicians Network We aim to share information and create a strong technician community across the University, including technicians in AHSS who have not been involved in the initiative to date. This will leverage opportunities for wider networking through the Technican Commitment and by supporting attendance at conferences and workshops and hosting events at QUB. Networking event 6 June. SG Technicians Jun-19 Ongoing
  • Recognition
    Support technicians to gain recognition through professional registration 
    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility  Start  End 
    Raising the profile of technical staff within the organisation through their engagement with academic colleagues across the faculty and in our professional services directorates. This has been successful in EPS with respect to engagement with Estates to improve buildings management processes. There has been recognition of technicians acting as Building Liaison Officers and increased collaboration with academic colleagues in the equipment planning process. We have also acknowledged technical services staff in our annual faculty staff recognition awards. Senior technical staff have been invited to sit on school/centre management boards and in some schools/centres technical staff of all grades are welcome to attend monthly school/centre board meetings. This is promoting inclusivity within all levels of staff. Building on this success to actively encouraging the University to engage in and expand this to incorporate an inclusive system accross all schools, faculties and directorate. Heads of School / School Management Boards    
    Affiliate Partner of the National Technician Development Centre, egaging with EPS EPS will continue to engage with the National Technician Development Centre to avail of their expertise in workforce planning, technical career pathways and technician professional development Information session held by NTDC for the QUBTCSG 18/04/2019 followed by EPS workshop. EPS are continuing to investigate toolkits provided by NTDC

    Technical Managers Forum

    People & Culture

    Sep-18 Ongoing
    We will use our network to benchmark against other organisations We will strive to apply best practice and will develop our own framework for technical jobs within the University and a clear career development roadmap for our team, including supporting Professional Registration. We continue to attend national technician networking events and conferences to adopt ideas and best practice across the Higher Education sector

    QuTCSG/ People and Culture

    Jul-17 Ongoing

     

  • Career Development

    Enable career progression opportunities for technicians through theprovision of clear, documented career pathways

    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End
    Our Faculties have already provided opportunities for interested technical staff to attend national conferences and workshops. This has been an important development because attendees at these meetings have been exposed to good practice and successes across other institutions. Each Faculty has provided resource to ensure that interested and motivated technicians can attend these meetings.   QuTCSG Jun-17 ongoing

    QUB has re-signed to HEaTED membership(MHLS signed 50 - 250 technicians)

    We have welcomed Suhel Miah (HEaTED Programme Manager) to QUB to provide advice and information on what his organisation can offer technical staff, especially relating to skills development and CPD.  Technical staff were invited to join the HEaTED Scotland Regional meetings in Napier and Stirling Universities to discuss the progress of the Technician Commitment in different institutions. This provided a great opportunity to network with technicians from other universities and share ideas and best practice.We hope to offer to host a HEaTED regional meeting in Jan/Feb 2020.    May-18  ongoing 

     

    We will support technical staff to take advantage of internal training opportunities and will identify and deliver new training needs.

    This will include a review of the potential for secondments, work shadowing, temporary promotions, mentoring and the mechanisms necessary to make these work effectively (including ensuring appropriate staffing levels to cover additional workload) We hope to identify training needs and ensure we can deliver bespoke courses. Mentoring has now been made available in some areas of MHLS faculty and should soon become available in other faculties. Learning & Development Jun-19 ongoing

     

  • Sustainability / Evaluation Impact

     Ensure the future sustainability of technical skills across the organisationand that technical expertise is fully utilised

    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End

    We will research different recruitment models such as apprenticeships, traineeships and secondments as mechanisms to ensure a strong pipeline of skilled technical services staff.

    Widening participation AgendaAttract school leaversImplement a training programme for new technical staff MP to link up with FE and Industry sectors to create link for apprenticeships including funding. People & Culture May-19  

    Succession Planning

    To make Queens University an attractive and exciting place to work.Changing the way we advertise and the information contained in the advertisement is required to reflect the best assets we have at present. Current employment oppportunities as a whole makes it harder to attract the best quality recruits. Our geographic location makes it doubly so and in order to change that we need radical thinking, investment and a desire to change. EPS People and Culture staff were looking at new adverstising profiles to include more than just the job and pay. Involvement of senior Techncians accross the University in this process would bring together known problems from different areas which could help identify solutions.      

    Evaluating Impact

    Regularly assess the impact of actions taken in support of the commitment to ensure their effectiveness

    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End
    Review of progress to be conducted and communicated to technical staff Updates can be given at Technician networking events and/or published on webpage        
    We can monitor technician participation in events and record feedback Feedback forms will be collated and recorded        
  • Further Steps (Not in Action Plan)

     RECOGNITION

    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End
    Recognition of technical specialist roles within the career framework. To endorse and expand the existing role templates to enable the formation of a clearly defined career pathway in a structure that represents the needs of our University. Although this currently exists it is not widely recognised when discussing upgrading procedures at school level.      

    CAREER DEVELOPMENT

    Action Comments Progress & Next Steps Responsibility Start End

    Produce a career path framework that reflects the needs and aspirations of technicians whilst being mindful of limited technical resources.

    The current tree like structure is suitable for larger numbers of technicians but it also includes stunted prospects compared to other groups of employees. A new structure is needed to show inclussion at higher levels of strategic planning and a reflection of specialist and flexible roles. There has been some discussion around a 2 path structure rolled out in Reading University. Whilst some aspects, specialist roles identified and recognised, are welcome, there is further work to be done to make it fit our workforce. People & CultureRegularly