June 2, 2014, by Tara de Cozar
Standing up for the invisible workforce
We’ve heard from technician Kelly Vere in this blog before, when we reproduced a post she’d written for the Guardian’s Higher Education Network.
She’s also set up the Technical Focus Group at the University — which is open to technical staff from all faculties. We asked her why, her answers are below.
Why did you start the group?
Mainly this was because of the lack of representation of technical staff within the organisation — we fall between the gaps of our academic and administrative colleagues. – There’s also a lack of communication between technicians across the university. I met technical colleagues at a conference in Birmingham that were based a two minute walk away from my building — and yet I had to go to Birmingham to meet them! We lamented this and that’s partly where the idea for the group came from. Probably the biggest motivating factor for me was that I really wanted to ensure that technicians were recognised as higher education professionals too. The main three aims of the group are:
1) to champion and ensure that the contribution technical staff make to teaching and research activities is recognised through professional development opportunities and to build on the high quality technical support technicians offer students and staff at Nottingham
2) to provide technical staff with a voice and a forum to contribute ideas to professional services units and management
3) to provide a mechanism and network for technicians to share information, resources and expertise across the University — at our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia.
What’s your role in the group?
I chair the group and feed back to Sarah O’Hara as PVC for Academic Planning.
Who can join?
Representatives from schools and departments who employ technical services staff. At present we have representatives from Engineering. Life Sciences, Pharmacy, Biosciences, Geography, Medicine, Vet School, Humanities, Physics, Chemistry, UNMC, UNNC and we are supported by Professional Development. We are still seeking representatives from IS, Psychology and all other departments not currently represented. Obviously it’s quite a new initiative but later in the year there will be a formal TFG newsletter that goes out to all TS staff to let them know about opportunities and events for technicians across UoN.
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to set up:
- Technical Seminar Series: the development of a university wide seminar series, specifically designed for technical staff (featuring internal and external speakers)
- Skills Database: the development of a Skills Database cataloguing technical expertise across the university’s campuses.
- Technically Speaking Newsletter: a newsletter specifically designed for the university’s technical staff detailed news and development opportunities.
- Technicians Professional Registration Fund: In response to the efforts of the TFG, the University has ring-fenced funding to fund professional registration for the first year for technical staff who wish to become professionally accredited through the Science Council or Engineering Council. A range of professional bodies who can offer professional registration will be running workshops here at UoN across the course of 2014
So, there you go. If you need more information, or would like to join the University of Nottingham Technical Focus Group, email TFG@nottingham.ac.uk