At the Tower of London last night (6 November) David Sainsbury, Settlor of Gatsby and the Technicians Make it Happen campaign, announced the publication of a report which lays out the key actions of the Commitment to date. The report highlights key themes that are emerging across the sector – in particular a clear change in culture at signatory institutions, which is driving the professionalisation of technician roles and giving formal recognition of the vital role of technicians who work to make research and teaching happen.

Speaking at the event David Sainsbury said: “What has been achieved in just the first year has exceeded all expectations. Rather than simply getting their house in order and putting a plan together, the vast majority of early signatories have forged ahead and already made significant changes. Demonstrable progress has been achieved both within institutions and across the sector more widely.”

The Technician Commitment identifies four key areas to improve and safeguard technical skills in higher education and research. A year after backing the Technician Commitment, signatories are required to complete a self-assessment exercise and submit a two-year action plan to the Technician Commitment steering board.

The steering board of sector bodies, which includes Wellcome Trust, Advance HE and UKRI, met earlier this year to look at progress towards delivering greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines.

The report shows that signatories have already started programmes of work to identify and develop clear career pathways for technical staff, and are demonstrating a desire to safeguard technical skills which, amongst other things, has led to the development of new technician apprenticeships.

The voice of the technician workforce has been at the heart of the early success of the Commitment. Denise McLean, Senior Research Technician at Nottingham University, speaking at the event said: “The Technician Commitment is driving change and adding value, recognition, and sustainability to our community and on behalf of all technicians. We appreciate the investment, painstaking work and dedication of the individuals who laid their necks on the line and never hesitated in championing the invaluable work we have and will continue to accomplish each day. We are technicians and we Make it Happen.”

At the Tower of London event a number of new signatories were also revealed, including the University of Southampton and Durham University.

To date, the vast majority of Russell Group universities have backed the Commitment and the Group’s CEO, Dr Tim Bradshaw, spoke at the event: “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.”

Download the Technician Commitment: One year in report here.