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Technical Services: continual development

Technical services colleagues on a training day

This week we’re featuring a series of articles on the work of Technical Services with a mix of detail and first-hand experience. Technical Services colleagues use their practical skills to support and develop teaching, research, commercial and outreach activities. Today we’re focusing on the role of training and development in Technical Services.

Since the establishment of the Technical Services function, it has been engaging with professional registration schemes to ensure that the skills, expertise and continual development of colleagues are recognised. There now is a rapidly expanding group of Registered Science Technicians (RSciTech), Registered Scientists (RSci), and Chartered Scientists (CSci). It’s noticeable that there is not a comparable professional registration scheme for Arts Technicians so Technical Services are working with a national Creative Arts Focus Group, set up by the Institute of Science and Technology to create a national bespoke register for Arts technicians.

As well as benefitting from courses that are currently available, a number of managers have identified a need in the technical population for a training course for technical staff who are undertaking supervisory roles. Technical Services are working together with People Development to plan and pilot such a course with the aim of making it available to all staff. Trainee technicians follow a two to three year programme that outlines the requirements of both technical managers and trainees in progressing to the level of a technician. The programme also includes assigning a mentor to the trainee technician. 

We caught up with two Technical Services colleagues to hear about their experience:

Selena Zito, senior technician based in the Meteorology Building:

“I came to the University as a trainee technician two years ago and obtained my BSc in Natural Science from the Open University last year. My current role involves performing regular meteorological observations at Reading University Atmospheric Observatory, running practical experiments in meteorology fluid dynamics to investigate movements in the atmosphere and testing, calibrating, and maintaining meteorological instruments. As well as running practical classes, I provide technical support during field trips and these include radiosonde balloon launches and data analysis.

“I really enjoy working in my role and it is extremely rewarding to see the students that we support go on to achieve their ambitions. A recent example was when one of our MSc students secured a role at the Met Office. I achieved professional registration as a Registered Science Technician with the Science Council and now plan to submit an application to the Higher Education Academy for associate fellowship.”

Yuba Gautam, a trainee workshop technician:

“Prior to working at the University, I was an endoscopy technician in the NHS. I started working at the University of Reading as a Kitchen Assistant and I was recruited to Technical Services as an Engineering Mechanical Manufacture Apprentice. I am on a day release course at Farnborough Technical College. For the rest of the week I work in the Russell Building mechanical workshop. I interact with my technical colleagues, PhD students and academic staff and we manufacture bespoke items to support teaching and research.

“Projects that I have been involved in already include making a template for cutting hydrogel for research into wound healing and in making a jig that secures lenses to satellites that will be launched to study the weather. I am delighted to have secured my position as an engineering apprentice. This has been transformational for me and I now have so many opportunities to develop myself.”

You can find out more about the work that Technical Services on their website.

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