New professional standards for technicians working across the higher education sector have been announced by the University of Sheffield, in partnership with the Institute of Science and Technology and the Science Council.
Following decades with no formal structures and declining numbers taking up roles in the technical community, it is hoped that the creation of professional standards and a technicians register will help to secure the future of the UK’s multi-billion pound research and development industry.
Workers will be able to become registered science technicians (RSciTech) with the Science Council before progressing to become registered scientists (RSci), awarded through a licensed professional body, while continuing their professional development and learning new skills.
Professor Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The future vitality of higher education in the UK will depend on the creative abilities of our technical staff. They are the people at the cutting edge of the research and teaching that drive so much of the innovation we need.
“They are often the unsung heroes of the advances in science, engineering and medicine. There are few things more important to us than ensuring this talent is properly nurtured and sustained by our universities and colleges.”
Ali Orr, registrar of the Science Council, said: “Recognition for the vital contribution made by technical staff in higher education to the quality of scientific teaching and research is long overdue. We are delighted that the Science Council’s new professional registers will provide that recognition as well as providing viable opportunities for career development and progression.
“As the registers help to make technical roles more attractive, it is essential that we also have in place appropriate routes into these careers.”
Eight professional bodies, including the The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) have been awarded the RSciTech and RSci pilot licences which will run throughout 2012.
The scheme will be launched next week at a conference on the future of technical support in higher education.