Our Technician Commitment

Image of two hands pouring liquid between two glass tubes.

LJMU has signed up to the Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council, supported by the Gatsby Foundation to help address key challenges facing technical staff working in research. Gary Graham, Deputy Chief Executive (Organisational Enhancement) explains why: “Our technicians are a highly skilled workforce with expertise that underpins a wide range of teaching, research and knowledge transfer activities across the University. Many of our technicians are researchers and teachers in their own right and they play a key role in developing the technical skills that our students require to pursue their future careers. By signing up to the Technician Commitment, we are publicly stating that we want to improve and safeguard these vital technical skills across all disciplines at the University.”

LJMU currently employs 82 technicians; the majority being based in the Faculty of Science (30) and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (28). Recruitment is also ongoing for four new technical positions; three of which are in the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies.

Nationally, demand for experienced technical staff is rising, and an ageing technical workforce also means that large numbers of highly-skilled technicians are retiring every year. The Faculty of Engineering and Technology are already investing in the future of their technical staff by employing apprentice technicians. “Technicians are a key part of the student experience and many of them have a vast amount of knowledge built up over many years,” says Sara Rioux, FET’s Head of Operations. “We are currently training five apprentice technicians to support the Faculty and ensure that we continue to deliver an excellent student experience.”

Technicians across the University also directly contribute to research and knowledge exchange activities, as Lyndsey Philip, Head of Operations in the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies, explains: “Technicians conduct formal and informal research into the latest advances in their field and experiment with the practical application of those developments. In Art and Design, for example, the School technical resource is a large part of a recent Liverpool-wide Ambition for Excellence bid to Arts Council England.”

She continues: “Technicians also work in partnership with academic staff on knowledge exchange around new technologies and best practice within their fields. They are often linked into professional networks of other technicians within their discipline, in both the HE sector and related industries, such as Fab Lab which is a Lego Ambassador and HP partner.”

In the Faculty of Science, technicians and research officers play a crucial role in the delivery of practical classes, field studies and supporting research, as the Faculty’s Head of Operations Aly Leigh explains: “Roles are wide-ranging and in some areas, such as tissue culture, microscopy, analytical chemistry, they are also highly specialised. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and experienced team who are regularly nominated by students and academic staff for teaching and learning and LiverpoolSU awards.”

Similarly in the Faculty of Education, Health and Community, technicians work in a wide range of subject disciplines, supporting students studying towards professional programmes in the health and education sectors. “Our technicians’ skills are at the forefront of their specialist areas,” says EHC Head of Operations Cathy Gleig. “Working in close partnership with academic staff, they provide high quality support for research and teaching, helping deliver an innovative and highly technical academic curriculum.”

“It is fantastic that the University has chosen to recognise their significance by making the Technician Commitment,” adds Aly Leigh, “and we are looking forward to founding a framework to ensure that our technician’s skills are continuously developed and honed to meet the needs of a successful modern civic University.”

“We want our technicians to know that they are valued members of staff,” asserts Gary Graham, “and we hope that by pledging our support for the Technician Commitment that they will be reassured that their needs are being listened to by the University.”


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