The commitment was launched in May 2017 and signed by 36 founding signatories, including several prestigious Russell Group universities and world-class institutions. Today at New Scientist Live (Excel London), Belinda Phipps, CEO of the Science Council announced that the number of signatories had reached 61 — representing nearly 50% of UK universities.

Through the Technician Commitment, five target areas have been identified to improve and safeguard vital technical skills. The pledge will ensure greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines.

The commitment comes at a key time as the demand for technicians is increasing. More than 1.5 million technicians currently work in the UK, which is expected to rise by around 70,000 each year. Vice Chancellors and Directors of Research Institutes from leading institutions across the UK have recognised the need to protect skills across their organisations by utilising and developing expertise.

Kelly Vere, Higher Education Engagement Manager, Science Council, said: “Technicians are critical to the success of our universities and research institutes. The Technician Commitment is a sector wide, collaborative initiative to ensure elevated status, profile and opportunity for the technical community in higher education and research. We are delighted with the pace of engagement from the sector and look forward to working with all signatories and partners to ensure visibility, recognition, development and sustainability of technical skills and expertise”.

Nigel Thomas, Executive Director, Gatsby Education, said: “We at Gatsby recognise the importance of technicians across industry, and are pleased to be supporting the implementation of the Technician Commitment. The sheer number of signatories shows how valued technicians are to the research community, and we hope that the commitment will reassure technicians that their needs are being listened to by senior leaders.”

Sir Paul Nurse, Director for the Francis Crick Institute, said: “Laboratory research staff play an important role in research at the Crick and are pivotal to our long-term success. I am delighted to be involved in the Technician Commitment, and to be pledging support on behalf of the Francis Crick Institution in recognition of the contribution technicians make.”

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Acting Director of the Russell Group, said: “Our members could not deliver world-class research, teaching and knowledge-transfer without the work of skilled technical staff. The Technician Commitment will help ensure their contribution is fully recognised and I am pleased that Russell Group universities have played a key role in driving this initiative forward.”