We’ve been working with the UCL’s Technical Managers Group and the wider community to better support our technical staff and improve career development opportunities.
UCL employs over 1,000 highly skilled technical staff whose diverse range of expertise is essential to delivering our mission. Our technical staff work in all areas of the university with technicians based in the Faculties, Information Services Division, and UCL Culture.
The utility of technologies, materials and processes in the heads and hands of our technical staff extend our reach into the world. Providing improved and tailored development opportunities for the technical community is essential to the sustainability of our workforce and our continued success in teaching and research.
In September 2020, we set up a team to work closely with the Technical Managers Group and the UCL community to help support our technical staff and improve career development opportunities through the delivery of UCL’s Technician Commitment Action Plan.
UCL’s Technician Commitment Action Plan
Sponsored by Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker (Dean of Engineering Sciences) UCL signed the Technician Commitment - a national initiative aimed towards increasing the visibility and recognition of the profession and improving opportunities for career development for technical staff working in higher education and research across the UK – in October 2018.
UCL’s Technician Commitment Action Plan focuses on five key work streams:
- Visibility: ensure that all technical staff within the organisation are identifiable and that their contribution is visible within and beyond the institution.
- Recognition: support UCL technical staff to gain recognition through professional registration.
- Career development: enable career progression opportunities for technical staff through the provision of clear, documented career pathways. ·
- Sustainability: ensure the future sustainability of technical skills across the organisation and that technical expertise is fully utilised.
- Evaluating Impact: regularly assess the impact of actions taken in support of the commitment to ensure their effectiveness. UCL will be undertaking our first self-assessment in early 2022.
Supporting UCL’s Technician Commitment Action Plan benefits our technical staff, individual Departments and UCL as a whole.
Benefits for our technical staff
Helps to provide more fulfilling careers for our technical staff by: supporting career progression through the development of clear career pathways; increasing opportunities to build peer networks through the development of further technical Communities of Practice at UCL; and providing further opportunities for our technical staff to influence the shape of learning and development to meet their own career and progression needs.
Benefits for departments
Helps departments identify and understand the make-up of our technical community and ensure this is reflected in our systems, including enabling us to build communications channels that are inclusive and allow us to effectively engage with staff about development opportunities and initiatives.
Benefits for UCL
Helps the institution to understand how best to support our technical staff, to give recognition for their work and shape development opportunities as well as ensuring that technical skills across the institution are fully utilised, maintained and sustainable.
Progress and next steps
Since signing the commitment we have:
- Established two Communities of Practice for technical staff to help strengthen professional identity, share best practice, and to collaborate and improve their practice areas.
- Renewed our subscription to Higher Education and Technician’s Educational Development (HEaTED). All technical staff can make use of our HEatED membership to access best practice resources, find networking opportunities and keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the sector.
- Developed the UCL Technical Staff SharePoint site to bring together all of the support available to technical staff at UCL, to signpost to best practice and resources and to share our progress against the action plan.
In July 2021 we launched a bespoke technical staff survey in partnership with the National Technicians Development Centre. The aim of the survey was to understand more about the full breadth and diversity of technical expertise at UCL as well as the professional development and career planning needed to support the community. This clarity will help us to develop improved career pathways and a clearer offering for how our technical staff can develop their careers at UCL.
- Visit the Technical Staff SharePoint site for more information about the Technician Commitment, key resources and the latest on the project.
- Read Professor Nigel Titchner-Hooker's article celebrating the work of technical staff across UCL
- Read about how we’re transforming our professional services through a range of projects
If you have any feedback, suggestions or thoughts about any of the TOPS Programme projects please get in touch.