Supporting services across the university
We know first-hand the essential work that our technicians carry out across our school and support services, and 2020 has proven without a doubt that our technical staff make an impact not only throughout the University, but also society.
Our students too, agree that the support and innovation our technician staff provide is no small part of the great student experience we aim to offer. Becoming a signatory of the technician commitment is how Aston hopes to go some way to recognise the inspiring work of our technical staff.
The Technician Commitment is a university and research institution initiative to highlight and recognise the essential work of technical staff and provide a focus on career development and the sustainability of the professions under the broad heading of “technician”.
The Technicians Commitment is supported by The Science Council and Gatsby Foundation
The Visibility part of the Technician Commitment is about raising the profile of our technical staff and the work they do, for staff and students.
You can read about Aston’s Technical Staff in platform magazine.
Recognition means understanding and celebrating the outstanding work of our technical staff.
Jiteen Ahmed was recently awarded the Vice Chancellor Award for his outstanding response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The career development of our technical staff is a key part of the Technician Commitment – we want all of our people to feel their can fulfil their career ambitions, be it become a manager, a department head, to consider academic pathways or to be passionate about what they currently do. (or continue to develop knowledge)
This page provides links to internal resources to start your career conversation.
The final strand of the Technician Commitment is working to ensure the professions are sustainable – with a large percentage of the technical workforce expected to retire in the next ten years, we are working to encourage new people into the profession and to ensure the valuable experience and knowledge of our people is passed down.
To drive our work on the Technician Commitment we have assembled an engagement group at Aston who meet on a regular basis to make progress on the action plan and link with their departments. Find out more about who is on the Engagement Group here.
Want to get involved? Get in touch with Jiteen Ahmed, Technical Manager and attend the next meeting.
Aston’s action plan for realising the Technical Commitment is a shared document that is available to everyone – this shows the real time status of the project, the goals being worked towards and the progress made so far and the impact on the working lives of our technical staff.
If you have comments on the Action Plan, then get in touch.
In additional the Technician Commitment, Aston University is a partner university in TALENT – a project led by Midlands Innovation (MI) with a consortium of eight universities in collaboration with industry partners.
TALENT provides a range of development opportunities to get involved with, including on going training aimed specifically at technical staff.
Details of upcoming training, workshops and job opportunities at Midlands Innovation can be found on their news pages.
Jiteen has worked at Aston since 1998, becoming Head of Technical Services in LHS.
How long have you worked at Aston?
I started at Aston in 1998 as a trainee technician and progressed to technical team leader in Pharmacy with a team of ten people. My role is to provide support RPS Radiation Protective Supervisor, Magnetic Resonance Safety Office for LHS. I chair the SUPC lab group which discusses framework agreements for laboratory equipment, and act as an for advisor STEM procurement.
How has your career developed?
I took a degree with the Open University that was founded by Aston and have attended training courses throughout my time here. I was fortunate that my line manager was very supportive - we used the PDR process to identify courses that would help me develop as a well as help the university meet its targets.
I applied for my current role as Technical Team Leader, as was asked to fill the roles on some of the other groups such as the SUPC group and to sit on other groups like Midlands Innovation
What's the best thing about working at Aston?
You have support for career development - your job is not rigid, for example if you worked in industry you would be sat in front of one machine, whereas at Aston there is a chance to progress. And the people are nice!
Sarah has worked as a Research Laboratory Technician at Aston University for 4 years.
Her role includes maintaining the lab, inducting new members of the team into the lab, ensuring Health and Safety is adhered to and running experiments. She sees the variety of the job as what motivates her as a technician.
"I really like working in the lab. I like the attention to detail that's needed. The role is very dynamic and varied which suits me and the Unviersity environment is great. If I worked in industry I might not have the wide and varied role I have here."
Sarah didn't always intend to become a Technician, but after completing her BSc she started to apply for industry jobs and then completed a MSc at Aston to improve her employability. This led to being offered a role in the school of Life and Health Sciences, and then moving to the newly created Aston Medical School.
Of course, there is something else Universities can offer that industry can't/ "It's really nice to work with the students. I enjoy teaching some of my lab skills to the undergraduate and PhD students from basic H&S to techniques like how to pipette and some molecular biology techniques."
Sarah also says that working with students has been some of the work she has been most proud of when working at the University.
"One of my favourite moments was helping a recently graduated student who was on placement with us and was trying to get employment as a lab technician or industrial placement. she came to the lab to get some wet lab experience - I was mentoring and training her in the skills I have and she then became very good at some of the techniques to the point I could jusy hand over that particular job to her. At the end of it she managed to get employment with the University and is here working as a technician."
And what keeps her at Aston?
"A lot of things. Working here also offers me opportunities I wouldn't get elsewhere. I am currently completing both my PhD in Preeclampsia, working towards accreditation as a Research Scientist, and studying the ILM 3 Leadership and Management. I will be the main technician for the Medical School when the first students arrive in September 2018, and my role will be to help support the medical students on placement."
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