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HETS Lite Recognises ‘Undeniable’ Culture Change

The culture change that is taking place in higher education and research around technicians is ‘undeniable’ thanks to an ongoing programme funded by Research England and several national initiatives.

This was the key message from HETSLite online summit delivered by Midlands Innovation in partnership with Science Council and The Technician Commitment.

Almost 300 technicians from across the UK joined the online event on 23 June 2021 to hear from two keynote speakers and partake in workshops addressing some of the key issues impacting technicians.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester was one of the keynote speakers.

He said: “The biggest challenges we need to address in the technician community are recognition, recruitment and reward. Work is already taking place with Research England, UKRI and the TALENT Policy Commission, but there is still more work to be done.

“Technical staff make up a significant workforce and it is one that needs to grow in the future. We need to attract the best talent, collaborate and share good practice.”

Kelly Vere, Project Lead for the Midlands Innovation Technical TALENT programme added: “It is incredible to see the immense work that our technicians continue to deliver and I’m proud to see an undeniable culture change taking place; that’s partly down to the work of the Technician Commitment and the support from UKRI and our Research England funded TALENT programme.

“The TALENT Policy Commission is making significant progress and we’re excited to share the results of our in-depth research and recommendations to government and key stakeholders later in the year.”

One of the HETSLite’s most popular workshop sessions was a panel discussion hosted by Jiteen Ahmed from Aston University, Dom Banks from Keele University and Martin Dellar from University of Nottingham who are part of the Midlands Innovation Technical Managers Strategy Committee.

The topic COVID-19: Reflections on challenges, opportunities and future ways of working generated some interesting insights from the technician community including:

The COVID-19 situation generated a massive amount of trust across the whole University. Everyone did their absolute best and I am so proud of all of our technicians.

"The great thing now is to see how flexible the technical staff have been. Many answers were sorted from the bottom up. Many times we sorted out problems and volunteered lab space for the those who could not get in to the research labs."

"Everyone should be very proud. It has been a challenging year."       

"It's opened our minds to new technologies and new ways of working."

"I have seen many more thank yous/appreciation coming from academic staff and students over the last year."

HETS 2021 is scheduled to take place at the East Midlands Conference Centre at the University of Nottingham on 10 November 2021.

At the event the national ‘Papin Prizes’ will be awarded across nine categories recognising technical excellence in academia."

To reflect the depth and breadth of technical roles in universities and research institutes, the Papin Prizes will be awarded to technicians in a range of categories, including teaching, research, infrastructure, outreach and more.

Register your interest for HETS 2021 on 10 November 2021 by emailing info@midlandsinnovation.org.uk