'˜One stop shop' technician centre will address skill shortage

A NEW £1.125m 'one stop shop' development centre will tackle the national shortage of specialist technical skills in the Higher Education sector.

Sir Keith Burnett.

Based in Sheffield, the National Technician Development Centre for Higher Education will provide universities with access to information, expertise and tools that will enable them to create a sustainable future for their technical staff and services.

Research by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation suggests that the UK needs 700,000 more technicians - who work in fields ranging from science and medicine to engineering - by 2020.

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The Higher Education Funding Council for England has awarded funding of £546,000 from its Catalyst Fund, with the University of Sheffield and other partners of providing over £580,000, for the new centre.

President of the Science Council and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield,Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who has been a long-term advocate for technical education, said: “Professional Technicians play a vital role in research and education, not only in industry but in the world-leading universities which drive innovation in fields ranging from science and medicine to engineering. Finding a way to nurture and develop this crucial capacity and to support individual professional development matters for individual technicians and the wider community of universities.

“I am delighted that this need has been officially recognised by funding being made available to create this National Technician Development Centre, which will be the one stop shop for all universities. The work of the National Centre will make a massive contribution to our understanding of the roles and contribution the Professional Technicians make in the Higher Education sector.”

Chairman of the Institute of Science and Technology and director of the National Technician Development Centre, Terry Croft, said the centre would deliver a “sustainable future” for technical staff and services.