Technical leaders come together to share progress on TALENT report implementation

Technical leaders come together to share progress on TALENT report implementation

The third annual meeting of technical team leaders took place at Cranfield University in late January and saw representatives from across the Midlands Innovation (MI) TALENT network come together to share their experiences and engage in a series of workshops, the outputs of which will be used to shape the future of technical leadership. 

Welcoming delegates to the event, Professor Karen Holford, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University and Chair of the MI Board commented:

 “It is very valuable to have Technical Team Leads from across the Midlands Innovation group coming together to identify and address emerging issues, share best practice and develop networks.  Universities simply can’t deliver research and teaching to a high standard without qualified and knowledgeable technical staff.  Continued professional development in all its forms is vital for the long-term sustainability of technical expertise for our universities. It really is something that is worth investing in, as everyone benefits from motivated and skilled technical staff.”

The event provided the opportunity for members to reflect on how far they have come since the TALENT Commission report was published in February 2022. The report sets out a vision for the future of the UK’s technical talent and includes 16 overarching recommendations to guide delivery of this vision.

Ian Hancox, Director of Research Technology and Technical Strategy at the University of Warwick and TALENT Co-Lead reflected:

“It has been almost exactly two years since the report was published and I’m proud to see how far we have come in implementing the recommendations.

It is clear to see how much our members value these chances to come together. We have developed a very supportive community and it’s great to see our members openly share their experiences and learn from one another.”

Creating effective learning and development environments

Recommendation 10 in the TALENT report highlights the need for employers to provide access to a range of professional development opportunities tailored to technical staff. This was a key focus for attendees, who shared their collective experiences and identified solutions to common issues.

Jane Hubble, Head of Technical Services at Cranfield University and MI Technical Manager Strategic Committee member, who facilitated one of the sessions noted:

“We all recognise the benefits of training and developing our employees, but in order to deliver effectively, we need to remove barriers; particularly those common to technical staff, who are often ‘noticed when they are not there’.

Ensuring that your organisation has the appropriate policies and frameworks in place is essential, as is having a practical plan to deliver much needed technical support when key staff members are away on a training course.”

In their roles as leaders within their collective organisations, group members were well placed to explore topics ranging from the delivery of effective appraisals to what management support should look like. Reflecting on their shared experiences, members came away with fresh perspectives to take back to their own roles and organisations.

Inspiring the next generation of talent

Throughout the day, delegates were asked to consider the challenge of attracting the next generation of technical talent to the workforce. Acknowledging the need for greater diversity in the technical community, it was agreed that apprenticeships, outreach and the use of diverse case studies are effective tools in showcasing the profession to new audiences.

Members recognised that technical careers are often not a well understood employment route for younger audiences. However, by attaching a dedicated technician resource to outreach work, some members have been able to build that awareness and contribute positively to recruitment initiatives.

An ongoing commitment

At the end of a productive and engaging session Jane Hubble, reflected:

“We have made some excellent progress and it’s important to celebrate our successes on days like this, whilst also keeping our focus on where we can collectively improve.  At the end of the session, every attendee left with a commitment to what they were going to change within their own organisation, and the MI Technical Manager Strategy Committee have a wealth of feedback with which we can continue to shape and support the development of our technical community across our institutions and beyond.”

Ends

Published 28 February 2024

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