Lord Sainsbury opens the National Technician Development Centre at the University of Sheffield

Lord Sainsbury was a special guest at the opening ceremony of the National Technician Development Centre for Higher Education which took place at the University of Sheffield today (Tuesday 13 February 2018).

TechnicianWelcoming him at the ceremony were the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, and the Director of the National Technician Development Centre and Chairman of the Institute of Science and Technology (IST), Terry Croft.

The National Technician Development Centre for Higher Education was set up following an investment of £1.125 million, including £546,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and funding from the University of Sheffield and other partners of more than £580,000.

The centre will provide higher education institutions with access to information, expertise and tools that will enable them to create a sustainable future for their technical staff and services.

It will work with partners in higher education and related institutions to provide a national framework for standardised job titles, grading and career pathways across the technical workforce, including plans to increase the number of apprentices working in the sector, ensuring the workforce of the future is fully equipped to meet the needs of higher education institutions.

On opening the centre, Lord Sainsbury spoke of the importance of developing the technical workforce: “I believe the work that the National Technician Development Centre is doing is of national importance due to the tireless efforts of Terry Croft and his colleagues and the inspirational leadership of Sir Keith Burnett.

“It is also a real breakthrough that HEFCE has committed serious funding, alongside the University of Sheffield and other partners, to enable the National Technician Development Centre to expand the support it offers to higher education institutions around the country”.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who is President of the Science Council and the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, has been a long-term advocate for technical education through his work with HEaTED (Higher Education and Technicians Educational Development) and the Science Council. He said: “I am absolutely delighted that Lord Sainsbury formally opened the National Technician Development Centre, a national facility to support and develop the professional technicians who are so crucial to universities and to the UK's future in science and innovation.

“Today is also the expression of many years of hard work by people such as Terry Croft who have recognised the importance of professional technicians for many years.

"As a scientist, I am only too aware that from the most delicate medical experiment to the great Hadron Collider at CERN and the grand fusion project at Culham, Science often relies on the most skilled technicians. Yet these vital individuals do no come from nowhere.

“They need support to develop their careers and the recognition that will motivate the most able young people to flourish in their work. The National Technician Development Centre will offer exactly that."

The work of highly skilled professional technicians can often be overlooked by the Higher Education sector and the challenges of recruitment are widely known. Research by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation suggests that the UK needs 700,000 more technicians by 2020.

The expertise of the team at the new national centre is available to universities across the UK and covers a number of strategic issues around restructuring technical services, business continuity, succession planning, recruitment and other related areas. This includes the Higher Education Institutions’ Technical Resources Toolkit, available to aid universities in understanding their technical staff and improving the sustainability of their technical services.

Terry Croft, Director of the new centre said: “We are delighted that Lord Sainsbury has officially opened the new national centre. It is a major landmark in professionalisation and modernisation of the UK technical community, especially in the higher education sector.

“It is vital to have this one stop shop at the National Technician Development Centre, where we can bring together expertise from across the sector, to solve the issues that employers and employees face today and into the future.

“We look forward to working with all higher education institutions and research institutions to deliver a sustainable future for technical staff and services.”

Lord Sainsbury also visited the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which carries out world-leading research into advanced machining, manufacturing and materials and has more than 100 industrial partners, ranging from global giants like Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus to small companies.

Additional information

About the AMRC

The University of Sheffield’s AMRC carries out world-leading research into advanced machining, manufacturing and materials and has more than 100 industrial partners, ranging from global giants like Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus to small companies.

The AMRC works with its partners to help improve productivity, de-risk investment decisions, and accelerate the early adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies to improve performance and quality. It is a place where digital meets manufacturing, with world-class expertise in augmented and virtual reality, robotics and automation; intelligent machining; digital twins; data analytics and more.

The AMRC Training Centre has seen the University pioneer first class engineering apprenticeships in the UK, including pioneering degree apprenticeships. This has opened access to graduate qualifications to students who, in the past, would never have thought to pursue a university education. More than 1,000 young people, employed by 250 small and medium sized companies across the Sheffield City Region, have been trained at the centre, and a sister organisation is now planned at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk