Technician Commitment

Sarah Hainsworth and Chris HewittAs a signatory of the Technician Commitment, I know first-hand the essential work that our technicians across our schools and support services carry out. And I speak for the students too, when I say that the support and innovation our technician staff provide is no small part of the great student experience we aim to offer. Signing up to the technician commitment is how Aston hopes to go some way to say "thank you" to our staff.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Professor Chris Hewitt, Dean of Life and Health Sciences

What is the Technician Commitment?

The Technician Commitment is a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council, supported by the Gatsby Foundation to help address key challenges facing technical staff.

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.

The Target Areas of the Technician Commitment

  • Visibility
  • Recognition
  • Career Development
  • Sustainability

By signing the Technician Commitment we recognise the need to ensure the sustainability of our technicians at Aston working in our schools and departments by working to ensure the profession is attractive and rewarding, that everyone can have an opportunity to develop their career and that we commit to safe guarding the sustainability of the profession.


Our Technician Stories

 

Jiteen has worked at Aston since 1998, becoming Technical Team Leader in LHS.

How long have you worked at Aston?

I started at Aston in 1998 as a trainee technician and progressed to technical team leader in Pharmacy with a team of ten people. My role is to provide support RPS Radiation Protective Supervisor, Magnetic Resonance Safety Office for LHS. I chair the SUPC lab group which discusses framework agreements for laboratory equipment, and act as an for advisor STEM procurement.

How has your career developed?

I took a degree with the Open University that was founded by Aston and have attended training courses throughout my time here. I was fortunate that my line manager was very supportive - we used the PDR process to identify courses that would help me develop as a well as help the university meet its targets.

I applied for my current role as Technical Team Leader, as was asked to fill the roles on some of the other groups such as the SUPC group and to sit on other groups like Midlands Innovation

What's the best thing about working at Aston?

You have support for career development - your job is not rigid, for example if you worked in industry you would be sat in front of one machine, whereas at Aston there is a chance to progress. And the people are nice!

Sarah has worked as a Research Laboratory Technician at Aston University for 4 years.

Her role includes maintaining the lab, inducting new members of the team into the lab, ensuring Health and Safety is adhered to and running experiments. She sees the variety of the job as what motivates her as a technician.

"I really like working in the lab. I like the attention to detail that's needed. The role is very dynamic and varied which suits me and the Unviersity environment is great. If I worked in industry I might not have the wide and varied role I have here."

Sarah didn't always intend to become a Technician, but after completing her BSc she started to apply for industry jobs and then completed a MSc at Aston to improve her employability. This led to being offered a role in the school of Life and Health Sciences, and then moving to the newly created Aston Medical School.

Of course, there is something else Universities can offer that industry can't/ "It's really nice to work with the students. I enjoy teaching some of my lab skills to the undergraduate and PhD students from basic H&S to techniques like how to pipette and some molecular biology techniques."

Sarah also says that working with students has been some of the work she has been most proud of when working at the University.

"One of my favourite moments was helping a recently graduated student who was on placement with us and was trying to get employment as a lab technician or industrial placement. she came to the lab to get some wet lab experience - I was mentoring and training her in the skills I have and she then became very good at some of the techniques to the point I could jusy hand over that particular job to her. At the end of it she managed to get employment with the University and is here working as a technician."

And what keeps her at Aston?

"A lot of things. Working here also offers me opportunities I wouldn't get elsewhere. I am currently completing both my PhD in Preeclampsia, working towards accreditation as a Research Scientist, and studying the ILM 3 Leadership and Management. I will be the main technician for the Medical School when the first students arrive in September 2018, and my role will be to help support the medical students on placement."


What is Aston doing?

 

Aston has created an action plan to be implemented throughout 2018.

View our Technician Commitment Action Plan .

Below are some of the proposals that we intend to develop throughout this year:

Aston Aims 1Aston Aims 2

  • We want to bring a group of Technicians together to form an engagement group who can help shape and implement the actions above.
  • We also seek five technicians who would like to complete their professional registrations and be willing to then mentor their colleagues across the University. 
  • Do you want to learn more about a different technical area at the University, or could you host a colleague from another department. We are looking for technicians who want to share their knowledge and their expertise for half a day, or even an hour.
  • Would you like to be involved in recruiting students or future technicians? Cuold you attend Open Days along with colleagues to promote Aston University?


To find out more about any of the above, please email.

Technical Resources

 

Being a technician can lead to a career contributing to the success of our students and Aston University.

There are other routes for career progression - Technicians can move into research, procurement or develop to become Lecturers or Teaching Fellows.

To discuss your career options, talk to your manager or your HR Business Partner.

Technician Career Paths model