UKRI champions technical careers in research and innovation

Scientists wearing full protective suit working in the laboratory

A UKRI action plan will ensure technicians are recognised for their essential role in research and innovation and supported to develop skills and careers.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a signatory of the Technician Commitment, a university and research institution initiative. It aims to ensure:

  • visibility
  • recognition
  • career development
  • sustainability.

It is intended for technicians working in higher education and research.

UKRI has today published an action plan outlining how it will champion the Technician Commitment.

The plan sets out UKRI’s expectation that the research organisations it invests in recognise and value their technically skilled people and nurture them in reaching their full potential.

Within UKRI’s own centres, institutes and units it will continue to lead by example. It ensures that the technically skilled people it employs are visible, recognised and supported to develop their careers both within and outside of UKRI.

Technical skills are essential for us all

The success of research and innovation depends on every member of the research and innovation system, irrespective of discipline, setting or sector.

Technically skilled professionals play vital roles in a range of settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • archives
  • studios
  • laboratories.

They work across universities, businesses and other research organisations.

Their work across research specialisms includes:

  • developing and maintaining resources, materials and facilities used in research and innovation
  • teaching and helping others to learn research techniques
  • managing budgets, teams and equipment purchases.

Celebrating and supporting everyone in the teams who make research possible is a part of a healthy research and innovation culture and essential if people are to achieve their potential.

Technicians help to solve challenges

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

Technicians are crucial members of the research and innovation community. Beyond their diverse technical expertise, they inspire, teach and develop others. They have played vital roles on the frontline of the research and innovation community’s extraordinary response to the pandemic and they will be equally central in our efforts to build back better, fuelling an inclusive knowledge economy.

Our action plan sets out how we will recognise, celebrate and value the many contributions made by technicians to the research and innovation endeavour. This is essential to realise our vision of a research and innovation system in which everyone can thrive.

Visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability

In its action plan UKRI commits to:

  • lead the research and innovation sector in raising the visibility of technicians by communicating the benefits and opportunities of technical careers and celebrating the successes
  • recognise technically skilled people through eligibility to apply for UKRI funding opportunities where appropriate, and including technicians in peer review and policy formulation
  • support technician career development through promoting a sector-wide framework for technical careers and ensuring that UKRI funding is sufficiently flexible to enable technicians to pursue diverse and mobile careers
  • ensure the sustainability of technical careers by fully integrating the Technician Commitment into its efforts to develop a diverse and inclusive culture. It includes a greater emphasis on careers and research culture in the consultation on successor to the current Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • lead by example by embedding the principles of the Technician Commitment into its own employment practices and ensuring it remains an attractive employer for technicians.

Top image:  Credit: sanjeri/GettyImages

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