Imperial renews Technician Commitment and hosts annual Technicians’ Festival

Imperial is praised for its excellent work since signing the Technician Commitment and announces next phase of support for technical workforce.

Imperial was one of the 36 founder signatories to the Technician Commitment in 2017. The Commitment focuses on four target areas to help universities and research institutions safeguard vital technical skills across all disciplines – visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability. Over 90 higher education and research institutes are now signatories.

Imperial has taken several steps to deliver on the Commitment, including setting up the Technicians’ Portal, producing case studies of technical staff, producing a regular newsletter and working with professional bodies to support technicians to apply for professional registration. The College has worked with the Science Council to support 36 science technicians to apply for professional registration and began a similar partnership with the Institute of Engineering Technology in 2020.

A College-wide mentoring scheme for Professional, Technical and Operational staff was launched by our Learning and Development Centre in March 2020. A new apprenticeship scheme for laboratory technicians has been developed by the Departments of Chemistry and Bioengineering and will welcome its first cohort in September 2021.

Positive impact

The peer review panel who assessed Imperial’s work against the Technician Commitment said: “Imperial College London has carried out some truly excellent work since becoming a signatory; recruitment of a dedicated member of staff to coordinate and manage the activity has facilitated some great initiatives. There is evidence of technicians undertaking applications for professional registration to the Science Council and significant engagement with activities such as the Technicians’ Portal. Imperial should be very proud of what they have achieved and it is fantastic to hear about the positive impact the initiative has had to date.”

The Provost, Ian Walmsley, said: “I am delighted to see that Imperial’s commitment to do more to support our technicians has been recognised. It is not an exaggeration to say that the College could not pursue its mission without our technical workforce. Each one of our technicians, from maintenance and ICT to laboratory and engineering, plays an important role in helping us to deliver world-leading research and teaching. This has never been truer than over the last 16 months and I would like to thank all technical staff who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Your commitment to keeping research running, keeping staff and students safe and helping to move teaching online has been remarkable.”

New initiatives

The College has committed to several new initiatives to further support the 650 technicians who work across Imperial including:

  • Holding an exhibition and running a technicians’ photography project to celebrate and reflect the diversity of our technical community and the broad range of technical roles at the College.
  • Widening the offer of professional registration support to include IT technicians (RITTech) and environmental technicians (REnvTech).
  • Supporting technicians to access apprenticeship funding to build new skills to support career development.
  • Place a renewed focus on encouraging people from underrepresented groups to apply for our technician apprenticeship scheme, including encouraging our technicians to engage in outreach work.

Allison Hunter, from Imperial’s Technician Commitment Steering Group, said: “Imperial has made real strides in supporting technical staff across the College and I am pleased that this has been recognised by the review process. It’s clear to me that this is only the beginning of a lasting commitment to enable Imperial technicians to be seen, recognised and supported to develop for the whole of their careers as well as ensuring that their technical skills are valued well into the future.”

Technicians’ Festival

The fourth annual Technicians’ Network event, which has been expanded to a week-long festival this year, is taking place between Monay 28 June and Friday 2 July. A two-day conference programme focuses on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Sustainability. In addition, separate workshops are being run on assertiveness, career moves, mentoring and interview skills.

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