Reflecting on the Technician Commitment so far
By Catherine Tuckey RSciTech MRSC, Professional Registration Specialist
The RSC are proud supporters of the Technician Commitment, a university and research institution initiative established in 2017, led by a steering board of sector bodies, which aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines. The RSC became a formal supporter with a launch event in Burlington House in March 2020. Our action plan for implementing the Technician Commitment provides support offerings for technicians in all sectors and for non-RSC members and members.
In the two years since the launch event, we are pleased to have supported technicians in their career and skills development across each pillar of the Technician Commitment – Visibility, Recognition, Career Development and Sustainability.
Here are just some of the stories of technicians who have been supported through RSC activities.
Joanne Copping RSci MRSC PCQI, Laboratory Supervisor/QMS Lead
Ever asked yourself "does anyone see me and what I do"? All too easily we can feel invisible in our roles.
I spent 31 years as a laboratory technician and often felt I had so much more to give.
Fortunately, I was approached to become a member of the RSC Registers committee. Although initially apprehensive, it has proved instrumental in me growing both personally and professionally. The opportunity to participate on this committee has given me a wider appreciation of our chemistry community and its needs.
As a result, I have become further involved with the work of the RSC, such as assessing institution run programs and facilities, ensuring alignment with our RSciTech competencies, enabling them to gain RSC accreditation for their courses. I’ve also now mentored early career members and assessed applications for the technician skills development grant.
My interaction with RSC, through committees and groups, has given me a sense of purpose away from my day-to-day work. I also grew in confidence and pursued advances within my career, which means I now lead my department.
My advice would always be to seek every opportunity you can, as it may lead you somewhere wonderfully fulfilling.
Helena Wong PhD RSci MRSC, Senior Technician, UCL
I have always been a supporter of the Technician Commitment because of its mission statement of visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians. Therefore, I was thrilled when the RSC launched their technician commitment action plan in March 2020 and since then, I have witnessed increasing activities to support technicians.
As the RSC technical representative for the Chemistry department at UCL, and with their assistance, I have been able to champion professional registration and cascade CPD and relevant career progression opportunities to technical staff. The greatest challenge faced has been securing funding for the registration, followed by motivating staff to apply. With funding finally committed from the department, I hope to have 3 applications submitted before the end of summer 2022. Catherine Tuckey will run a workshop to assist the application process, which can be daunting to new applicants.
With my experience as a current assessor of RSciTech and RSci awards, I can guide and reassure everyone they have the competence and knowledge to gain their professional registration, which unfortunately can be lacking. Promoting the value that the registration will bring to personal development and career progression has helped convince the younger generation and department to embrace the Professional Register.
Naveed Hassan RSciTech AMRSC, Assistant Manager (Analytical Chemist) Quality Assurance Development, Peoples Steel Mills Ltd.
I am highly thankful to the Royal Society of Chemistry for awarding me a technician training and travel grant in February 2021 to attend the assessor training course based on the international accreditation standard for calibration and testing labs. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the RSC for me because the training was in Islamabad and I live in Karachi. During training I was taught the tricks of assessment or audit with the help of assignments, presentations and group discussions etc. Now, I conduct an internal audit of all testing sections of our lab and I also participate as auditee for our lab during third party audit for surveillance as per 17025:2017 standard. With the help of this grant now I am a qualified assessor of ISO/IEC-17025 standard.
Secondly, I am thankful to Catherine and the rest of the RSC external awards team for advising and helping me during my application to become a Registered Science Technician. After getting this registered award my confidence level towards my chemical testing skills has increased. It also helped in my professional recognition. I also feel proud and confident because the RSC is behind me in my career development.
Finally, I am pleased to state that my technician skill development grant has been approved to attend two months of training in a state-of-the-art laboratory at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan to get skills in method development and validation on XRF analyzer. I am very excited to visit my host lab soon. Always thankful to the RSC.
Kat O'Donoghue RSciTech, School Science Technician, Regents Park Community College
I applied for the outreach grant so I could set up an equipment lending service to the primary schools in our Co-operative Learning Trust and also the local feeder schools, in the hope that the local children can get more hands-on practical experience and inspire children to take up science later in their life. So far six schools have signed up to the service and currently two schools have equipment on loan.
The biggest hurdle from being awarded the grant in August 2021 was sourcing the equipment and by December, I was able to let primary schools start requesting. Science colleagues have been really supportive and have actively wanted the outreach to take place but felt that they just did not have the time to run the project themselves. By setting up the network, the schools have a person to reach out to, to ask for advice or technical support.
I definitely feel that the primary teachers have a better understanding of the role of technicians and what we do. They know that they can come to us and get the same knowledge and information that they would get from a science teacher. By setting this project up it has made me realise that technicians have a wealth of knowledge that we can share and it is great that the RSC actively promote the work we do.
The RSC continues to develop our offering for technician support. In September 2021, in partnership with the Royal Society of Biology and the Institute of Physics, we ran a successful, well-received conference for science technicians across all sectors. The huge interest and positive feedback from this event has meant the conference will move to being run annually. Further advancements include developing the Technician Representative network and organising meetings to encourage cross-institution working and networking. Following the TALENT commission policy report launch, we have published a response highlighting our work and direction for development for the recommendations outlined in the report, which you can find in the news section of our website.
If you are interested in any of the activities offered for technician support, or would like any more information, please drop us an email.