Newsletter #5 February 2017

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IST Newsletter February 2017

Welcome to the fifth edition of the IST e-newsletter. The newsletter will appear quarterly and will be emailed out via Mailchimp from, to ensure that you receive your e-newsletter please add this address to your contacts list.


Helen Sharman IST President Photo credit: Thomas Angus, Imperial College photographer

President's Blog Stardate 14/02/2017

A new year has brought renewed interest in technicians as the country recognises the value that technicians provide. One of the ways this is being seen is that Technician career development is on the agenda in a big way in many institutions. If you have an opportunity to input your own ideas or to comment on initiatives then please do! While supporting members individually, the IST will also be working with the Science Council to enable institutional change to improve recognition and career progression opportunities for technicians across the country. I expect there will be lots of discussion in the media over the coming months about the need to encourage more young people to become technicians and how to benefit most from apprenticeship schemes.
 I am happy to announce that The IST conference will take place on the 14th September at the Mecure Hotel in Leicester,  so do keep that time available in your diaries in case you are considering when to book your late summer holidays! Terry and his team have been working hard to ensure that this years event will be bigger and better than ever before. The previous conferences have been very well-received but none-the-less, now is a great time to let us know what topics you would like to see and any new items for inclusion. Just send an email to, I look forward to seeing you there.

Chairman's Blog

Happy New year everyone and I hope that you will have a successful and productive 2017.  Carrying on from Helen's blog, I also would encourage you to put this years conference date, 14th September 2017, in your diary which this year will be held in Leicester.  We have spent quite a bit of time this year already planning the conference and looking for a suitable venue that will accommodate our expanding conference and in a part of the UK that was easily accessible to all.  We are on the look out for new workshops ideas and suggestions so please let us know.  We would also like to reserve some of our workshops this year for those of you who have perhaps never delivered a session before, but would like an opportunity to present  in front of a friendly audience for the first time. We have looked to keep the cost of attending the conference down to minimum levels again to make it easier for you to be involved and remember that the IST is a non-profit organisation and all the executive and IST champions work voluntary on your behalf. 

Early bird prices are currently available from the website.

I am proud to announce that the IST designated charity for 2017 will be The Downs Syndrome Association and we are supporting Workfit.  James Trout from the Environment Agency has written an article in this edition telling us about the charity and Workfit, helping people with Down's Syndrome into employment by providing support and training.

WorkFit supports people with Down’s syndrome to access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives. For more information about WorkFit please contact the team on 0333 12 12 300 or email us on

IST Highlights of 2016

National Centre for Professional Technicians
Sheffield University in partnership with the IST launched the first National Centre for Professional Technicians in Higher Education this February. IST Chair and TDM Director, Terry Croft, spoke to Times Higher Education about the Centre.

Apprenticeship Week
In March we gave our support to National Apprenticeship Week by supporting the Science Council’s Apprenticeship Week special offer. Eligible applicants could get up to £55 off the cost of professional registration with the IST and Science Council, read more about it here.

Our 61st Annual General Meeting
We held our 61st Annual General Meeting in May in Sheffield. As usual, all IST members were invited to the meeting and a sandwich lunch beforehand. IST Chair, Terry Croft, chaired the meeting and you can read a summary of it on our website.

Technicians Make It Happen
A new campaign launched this year by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation aims to raise awareness of technical careers. You can find out more about the ‘Technicians Make it Happen’ campaign on their website. We at the IST wholeheartedly support this campaign and IST Chair Terry Croft said: “As the IST is the professional body for technicians, we are delighted to be fully supporting the technical community and this campaign promoting technicians that really do make it happen!” 
Our Technical Conference 2016
Following on from our successful Conference in 2015 we enjoyed another hugely successful Conference this year at the University of Manchester Conference Centre on 15th September 2016. This exciting one-day conference and its talks/workshops offered an opportunity to update technical knowledge, skills, and further your career development. It also provided valuable networking opportunities to engage and learn from other technical staff and technical supervisors/managers. For more information about the conference, including presentations, photos and a conference video, visit our website. See below for details of our 2017 conference and book your place.

IST Registrants Win Science Council CPD Awards
Each year the Science Council hosts a day-long forum to discuss issues facing both professional bodies and individual registrants around CPD. This year’s forum saw the second Science Council CPD Awards presented to the winners and commendations. We were delighted that two of the IST’s registrants were amongst the Award winners – Jemma Walker won the RSci category, and Paul Baker won the RSciTech category. Go to our website for a full list of winners.
Championing Arts and Media Technicians
At the end of October we announced our new initiative championing arts and media technicians. In collaboration with our partners at HEaTED, we will support technicians from the arts to become professionally recognised so that they can prove competency and skills, just like we do currently for technicians from the science and technology sectors.
A Technician Shaped Hole in Higher Education
In November IST Chair Terry Croft wrote a blog post for Efficiency Exchange on how the role of technicians in universities is poorly understood and why this is costing them money.

Improving Diversity and Inclusion
In December the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science Council launched a major initiative to improve diversity and inclusion. The IST welcomed the launch of this diversity framework and continues to fully support this and other initiatives furthering equality and inclusion in Science, Technology and the Arts.

Committed to Technicians
IST Chair Terry Croft wrote for Laboratory News on the need to enhance the professional technical workforce to prevent the imminent skills shortages in science and engineering and on the work of the TDM project.

Technicians Events 2017

5th-7th April, Technical Managers in Universities
University of Bristol
The Theme of the conference will be Leading Technical Services – making it fit for the future?
5th-7th April, University Bioscience Managers Association
University of Hull
34th Annual Conference



9th - 10th May, S-lab/UKSPA
York Racecourse
Science, Innovation and Translation: The Design and Operation of Research Laboratories, Incubators and Science Park facilities 

31st May, Higher Education Technicians Summit
University of Warwick
This day event is free to attend and there will be keynote speeches, workshops, presentations and networking opportunities focused on celebrating technicians and professional development for technicians.


6th July, Exeter Technical Services Conference

University of Exeter
The third annual Technical Services conference with the theme of 'Technician development', with workshops focusing on: networking; enhancing technical skills; personal and professional development; leadership and management; and health, safety and the environment.


4th - 6th September, CryoUsers 2017
University of Coventry, Technology Park
CryoUsers is a biannual meeting of Helium Recovery and Cryogenic Technicians. The event starts with registration in the late afternoon on the first day and will typically have topical presentations from attendees and industry plus a visit in the afternoon of day 2, day 3 sees more topical presentations and departure after lunch.

14th September, IST One Day Technical Conference
Mercure, Leicester

This one day conference and its workshops will focus on updating technical knowledge, skills, and career development. It will also provide delegates with valuable networking opportunities to engage and learn from other technical staff and other technical supervisors/managers.
Book your place online

Have you heard of HEaTED?

HEaTED is the leading provider of professional development and networking opportunities for all disciplines of the technical workforce. We offer support for technicians through networking events, CPD and resources. Register on our website for free, and discover how we can help you:

HEaTED put on free networking events in regions all over the UK, as well as paid for training courses, below are dates for the next round of free networking events:


IST Charity for 2017: Down's Syndrome Association - Workfit

The Down’s Syndrome Association is the IST designated Charity for 2017. Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) is the only national charity in UK dealing with all aspects of Down’s syndrome aiming to help people with DS live full and rewarding lives.

Established in 1970, the DSA strives to improve lives of people with Down’s syndrome and raise awareness of the condition.  Significant advances have been made in the lives of people with Down’s syndrome and their families. Life expectancy has improved and we live in a society with an increasing expectation of inclusion for people with Down’s syndrome. 

The DSA services are accessible to all those with interest in the condition including helpline, training and assessments, resources, sports programme DSActive and successful employment programme – WorkFit. 

WorkFit helps people with Down’s syndrome into employment by providing support and training for employers and employees.

A key part of our partnership for the next 12 months is to continue to find opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome within the technical community. We want to show “Science is Inclusive” in our workplaces

The Environment Agency’s National Laboratory Service (IST Corporate Affiliated) has started a programme to recruit laboratory assistants through the WorkFit programme. 

This has been a huge success and we now have Tom and Ben working with us in Starcross and Leeds. The recruitment for Nottingham and Caversham is in progress.

So how is the IST going to support DSA in 2017?

Mission Statement
•    To encourage more technical organisations to get involved and support the WorkFit programme
•    To help provide an IST validated level 1 qualification that’s fits with the Down’s syndrome learning profile
•    To use our network to help raise awareness of the DSA and WorkFit.
•    To give people the opportunity to donate to the DSA at our events and through our website.
•    To raise awareness of WorkFit through our network and media accounts.

Our first opportunity to raise awareness

Scientists in Socks

Each year the DSA raise awareness by asking people to wear special socks on the 21st of March. 
Socks cost £3.50per pair and are available at the following link:

My aim is to make a collage of all the pics of Scientists in Socks and send to the DSA to show our support. Please also share your pic of you in your socks on your social media accounts.

James Trout, Laboratory Site Manager, Environment Agency

DSA WorkFit & the Environment Agency 2017

Technicians in the spotlight at The University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield have been celebrating their technical staff and the Technicians Make It Happen campaign  with a 'Technicians in the spotlight' feature showing how their #techniciansmakeithappen. 

Technicians have shared stories of how they make things happen and these have been put together into a digital feature - you can read their stories here.

Stories were shared on the web and via Twitter to celebrate and highlight the vital contribution they make to the University. They also had a technician takeover the @shefunilife twitter account, with the IST's John-Paul Ashton, Research Technician and Network Coordinator showing us a week in his life. 

Creating Career Pathways for Technicians

A video created by the TDM team, with thanks to all the University of Sheffield technicians featured and to Noel Liggins for shooting and editing it. 


Technicians Make it Happen image competition

Technicians are the linchpins of the UK economy, delivering integral support for productivity in many of our country’s high-growth areas, including the aerospace, chemical, information technology, engineering and manufacturing industries.

They work in everything from vital research and food production to the design and build of our favourite tech gadgets.

We need your help to bring technicians into the spotlight! Share an image of something that you or a technician you know will have helped to make happen on either Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to be in with a chance of winning £1000.

Firstly, look around you and find something that technicians will have helped to make. Be creative.

Next, snap it.

Finally, post your picture on Instagram or Twitter using #techniciansmakeithappen in the text.

If you’re using Instagram or Twitter to share your pics, make sure to follow us @technicians_mih so we can see your snaps.

A winner will be announced every month on social media who will receive £25 Amazon vouchers. An overall winner will win £1000 and career mentorship in 2017.

For more information on the competition visit:

Follow us for the latest updates on:
Twitter: technicians_mih
Instagram: technicians_mih
Facebook: Technicians Make it Happen

Science Council News and Events

The Science Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have had a letter published in Nature calling for increased recognition of technical staff.

The Science Council blogs continue to cover issues aimed at helping people with professional registration, including 7 tips for completing your competence report and the impact CPD can have on your career.

You can read the Science Council highlights for 2016 here.

Science Council Shop

The Science Council has launched an online shop for professional scientists, which has a range of items designed for scientists like you, with all profits going towards the Science Council’s work representing the science profession.

Members of the Institute of Science and Technology can get a 15% discount on your first purchase. Simply quote the code IST15 at the point of check out.

If you’d like one of the exclusive items only for registered professionals, make sure you create an account and drop the Science Council a note so the shop recognises that you’re either a Registered Science Technician, Registered Scientist or Chartered Scientist.

Browse the shop today at

Have you seen the IST Conference 2016 video?

IST at Brunel University London

Earlier this month, Natalie Kennerley came to Brunel to lead a workshop on how to apply for professional registration through the IST. This event was attended by technicians from departments throughout the university and was enjoyed by all who attended it. (Chocolate biscuits helped!)

Prior to attending this session, I knew that professional registration could only be a beneficial thing, as with any accolade or qualification, however, it was through Natalie’s talk that I began to realise how important it is for technical staff at all levels of qualification.

It has been fantastic to watch as staff with fewer formal qualifications realise that their years of experience, dedicated training and hard work have brought them to a level that is equal to, or higher than, that of their colleagues who have higher degrees. It was great for newer staff to see what the more experienced members of their department had as examples, and what they need to do to reach the next qualification level. Management staff seemed pleased that their absence from the lab didn’t mean they were no longer considered scientists, as the professional registration system recognises the level of knowledge needed to effectively manage science labs, workshops and budgets.

It was an enlightening day, and the emphasis on professional membership being about skills rather than qualifications, meant that staff left enthused to start the process in their own departments, and with increased self-confidence from spending a couple of hours cataloging their skills and knowledge, and realising how much they can do.

Brunel University London has a corporate affiliation with the Institute of Science and Technology and recognises the importance of training and empowering its technical staff to ensure that departments are supported by the best people possible, and that technicians are able to achieve their full potential.

Thanks to Natalie for a great workshop, and we hope to host her again and spread the word further next year!

-Freya Crawford, Brunel University London

National Technicians Network

Loughborough University 

We were delighted to have Natalie present at our TecNet event on the 6th of January. From a staff development perspective we found it encouraging to see how technicians at Sheffield engage, benefit and appreciate the opportunities created through Sheffield’s hard work. We admire Natalie’s enthusiasm to raise the profile of technicians which is exactly what we are trying to do at Loughborough. 

As a result of positive feedback from Sheffield of the online forum and also the high interest from our technicians it is our pleasure to join the national online TechNet forum. The forum presents us with a great opportunity to link with other universities, share knowledge and provide us with a platform to continually recognise and accredit our own and other technician’s hard work. 

We want to utilise this opportunity we have to network with other universities and share our enthusiasm for raising the profile of technicians! We will be using the network to engage with technicians, promote upcoming events, conferences and technical activities across higher education.  

Our technicians are excited at the prospect and we hope that having the support of other universities will benefit the technician community both here and across higher education.  So, please don’t be shy; inform, share and engage with us!  

We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

- Beatrice, Nadine & Loughborough University 

If you would like to promote a technical community in your area then please get in touch, we would like to hear from you!

Call for Articles

Do you have any articles that you feel would be of interest to the technical community? Or do you need to promote a relevant article or event? We are looking for articles to include in the next IST Newsletter, so if you do have anything then please get in touch.

Please contact us at
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