We aim to build on what we feel is significant progress made over the first year as a signatory to the Technician Commitment by continuing to work with our Laboratory Research Scientist Network and to expand interactions to include technicians outside the research areas, to ensure that their needs are also addressed.
We are committed to the following work in the four key areas of the commitment.
Exhibition – Making it Happen (March 2019-February 2020)
From early 2019, the Crick public exhibition space will be occupied for a year by an exhibition called ‘Making it Happen’, a title based on the Gatsby motto ‘Technician’s make it happen’. The exhibition will be open to the public four days per week.
Created in collaboration with technicians from all areas of the Crick, including engineering, core facilities, STPs and research groups, this exhibition is designed to give visibility to those working behind the scenes of Crick research. The exhibition team are in discussion with the Gatsby Foundation as one of the exhibition partners to develop ways to reach local schools to promote technical careers and to guide exhibition visitors to online Gatsby career tools. An exit survey will be used to monitor initial impact.
Athena Swan including technician-related data and actions
An application for an Athena Swan institute award will be submitted in April 2019. The analysis of staff data and results from staff surveys, will identify gender related issues around Crick culture, career progression and work-life balance. These issues disproportionately affect technicians in many areas, where there are more females than males (67% LRS, 65% Senior LRS and 53% Principal LRS).
The Athena Swan action plan will be developed by a self-assessment team that includes technician representatives. The success of the Athena Swan action plan will be monitored by regular staff surveys and the creation, post award, of an Athena Swan Steering group.
Technician Commitment London leads and technical staff committee networks
We will work with Technician Commitment leads from Imperial College London, UCL, King’s College London and the MRC to form a network group across the London-based institutes to explore ways to collaborate and share resources and ideas.
Members of the Crick LRS Network committee will work to create a partners network with other technician staff committees across King’s College London, Imperial College London, UCL and the Institute of Cancer Research. The organisation of networking events will be supported by management.
We will promote professional registration through celebrations of the success of early applications at a technician event and on the Crick intranet. Already registered technical staff will act as mentors to guide new applicants through the process. We will also run workshops on the process to make applications as straightforward as possible.
Over the next six months we will reach out to staff in technical areas not so far covered by the commitment work, namely information technology and engineering. We will explore the scope and appetite for professional registration in these areas and also possibilities of employing apprentices in these areas.
A new library system will be implemented in 2019 that will allow publication authorships and acknowledgements to be assigned to different Crick staff groups. This will allow the contributions of technical staff to be monitored and reported.
Cross training of super users from labs in Science Technology Platforms (STPs)
To improve access to some of the STPs we will look at increasing training of permanent LRS staff from research groups in STP technologies. This is already in place in some STPs and has the benefits of creating a local technical expert within a research lab to maintain specialist technical knowledge. This upskilling will contribute towards technical staff development.
Secondment programme for technicians
There are plans being discussed to allow technicians to move between labs and STPs for technical training. This may be to create a local specialist as above but may also allow training in a new technique to allow staff to become more able to change roles and move between labs. This may be important where a group leader is leaving the Crick and staff are at risk and an increase in redeployment of at-risk staff would reflect success in this.
The BRF animal facility will be applying for IAT accreditation to award L2/L3 qualifications through workplace learning.
Technicians will be included in the new Crick Alumni ‘CrickConnect’ from early 2019. This will follow Crick staff’s ‘next destinations’ and will create a network for career mentoring.
Following the success to date of our first cohort of laboratory technician apprentices we will promote the opportunity for recruiters to employ staff with minimal laboratory experience who can register for a two year apprenticeship. We will also explore further the possibility of employing apprentices in IT and Engineering.
Prior to the next self-assessment in 2020 we will ask the LRS Network to undertake a technician staff survey to determine how successful our initiatives have been and what impact professional registration has had on staff attitudes.
David Hudson, Science Training Lead, 15 October 2018