Researcher at a lab bench

Technician Commitment action plan 2021-2024

The Crick is a signatory to the Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council and the Gatsby Foundation aiming to address the particular career challenges faced by technical and scientific staff.

Introduction

We aim to build on what we feel is significant progress made over the first three years as a signatory to the Technician Commitment, by continuing to work with the Technician Commitment steering group and the Laboratory Research Scientist Network, and by expanding interactions to include technicians outside the research areas, to ensure that their needs are also addressed.

Action plan 2021-2024

We have created an ambitious and aspirational action plan covering the five areas of the Technician Commitment, which will be supported by actions and events organised by the Technician Commitment steering group (TCSG), the Laboratory Research Science (LRS) Network Committee and the Research Institutes Technicians Group (RITG).

Progress against this plan will be subject to limitations imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 situation. For example, limited face-to-face interactions of committees and working groups, the ability to hold celebratory events, and the proposed ‘in-person’ technician week will be subject to regulations at the time.

Visibility

Ensure that all technicians within the organisation are identifiable and that the contribution of technicians is visible within and beyond the institution.

Achievements 2018-2020

Public engagement

The Craft and Graft exhibition reached an amazing 25,000 people during 2019. There was a 12% increase in full time students visiting, compared with previous exhibitions, suggesting we managed to attract our target audience of students and young people interested in finding out about careers in science. 

"I gained a better understanding of what happens here and the many jobs that support the science that comes out of here!"
Exhibition visitor

Actions 2021-2024

Networking and knowledge exchange

The LRS Network Committee will run forums and networking events, as well as promoting the skills finder database. The RITG will run networking events and symposiums as well as promoting cross-institute knowledge exchanges and producing an inter-institute newsletter.

Highlighting roles and achievements

The TCSG has an ambitious set of objectives to raise the visibility of Crick technical staff through highlighting their role in Crick research and other activities on the Crick intranet and in celebratory events. They will promote nominations for national awards and investigate Crick awards and grants to recognise and support technical staff achievements.

Recognition

This will be supported though continued support for professional registrations and by ensuring that technical staff receive appropriate authorships and acknowledgements for their contribution to scientific publications.

Achievements 2018-2020

Professional registration

Fourteen technical staff have become professionally registered, with the first cohort awarded their certificates at the launch of the Craft and Graft exhibition.

Actions 2021-2024

Acknowledgement

This will be supported though continued support for professional registrations and by ensuring that technical staff receive appropriate authorships and acknowledgements for their contribution to scientific publications.

Career development

Enable career progression opportunities for technicians through the provision of clear, documented career pathways.

Achievements 2018-2020

Career symposium

The inaugural symposium on ‘Career Development for Technicians’ was organised by the Technician Commitment Research Institute working group. This event brought together technical staff from six partner research institutes in the London and Cambridge areas: the Francis Crick Institute, the Institute of Cancer Research, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, John Innes Centre, the Babraham Institute and MRC Institutes.

Actions 2021-2024

Secondments and placements

There will be continued improvements to the our intranet staff hub to make careers information more accessible, including a careers pathways project and more clarity around secondment and placement opportunities. Other actions include a review of the performance and development process, and more clarity and support for the promotions process. There are also plans to improve tracking of next career destinations.

Technical staff week

This will be supported by a planned annual technical staff week, which will include talks and workshops covering career development and networking, and will showcase technical staff achievements.

Sustainability

Ensure the future sustainability of technical skills across the organisation and that technical expertise is fully utilised.

Achievements 2018-2020

Apprenticeships and diplomas

Six people took part in our first round of laboratory technician apprenticeships and passed the academic BTEC. Two long-term staff members, without previous academic qualifications, undertook the apprenticeship and one was subsequently promoted as a team supervisor.

Two of the external apprentices got permanent jobs as laboratory research scientists within a Crick technology platform, one took up a university place, and the other obtained a degree apprenticeship place in a biotechnology company.

Level three and five leadership diplomas were launched in 2017 and are open to technical staff to support their development in management and leadership.

Actions 2021-2024

Apprentices 

We will continue to support laboratory technician and electronics apprentices and plan to introduce level three animal technologist apprenticeships.

Evaluate impact

Regularly assess the impact of actions taken in support of the commitment to ensure their effectiveness.

Achievements 2018-2020

The LRS training and development survey

The 2020 Laboratory Research Science survey showed that the changes introduced in 2018 to improve training accessibility for technical staff and promote the technician commitment had been successful. There were also good levels of awareness of the LRS staff network and its activities, of the Technician Commitment, and the professional registration scheme.

Technician Commitment Steering Group

As recommended by the original self-assessment report, a steering group was created including representatives from all areas and levels of technical staff. The group was actively involved in the creation of the self-assessment report and three-year action plan.

Actions 2021-2024

​Surveys and reviews

We will continue to assess the impact of our actions through staff surveys and an annual review of the action plan to ensure it remains relevant.

Full action plan

This plan was formulated in collaboration with the Laboratory Research Science (LRS) Network Committee and the Technician Commitment steering group (TCSG), who had input into its content and reviewed drafts at each stage. 

View the full three-year action plan 2021-2024 (PDF)
 

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