National Technicians Development Centre skills survey

The Technician Commitment steering group have recently approved the undertaking of the technician skills survey.

This project will be run by the National Technicians Development Centre in conjunction with a newly formed working group comprised of:

  • Matthew Davis, Organisational Developer, The Academy
  • Jan Brett, Technical Development and Planning Offer, HLS
  • Carmel Pinnington, Technical Team Leader, School of Environmental Services
  • Michael Beiert, Technical Coordinator, School of the Arts
  • Tony Topping, Learning Technologist, School of Engineering
  • Rachael Bell, Technical Coordinator, School of the Arts
  • Bhavana Jagota, Senior Core Technician, Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology
  • Mark Whitley, Technical Manager, Department of Physics
  • Stephen Chappell, Central Teaching Hub Supervisor
  • Sarah Northey, Senior Technician, Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children.

The aims of undertaking a skills survey for our technical workforce are:

  • To offer our technicians the opportunity to assess their current skills and to plan for future professional development
  • To enable Technical Leaders and Heads of Departments to identify potential future skill shortages or single points of failure, to include this in succession plans and any relevant recruitment planning
  • To raise the profile of our technicians by showcasing the wide range of skills and expertise they have
  • To identify local areas of expertise and good practice for potential internal job shadowing, training and/or work experience
  • To identify the potentially unknown skills in our technical workforce and explore ways in which these skills can be shared to develop our technical workforce.

These aims align tie in with the Technician Commitment of which the University originally signed in 2017 and then renewed its commitment in 2020. We are currently 18 months into a 36-month action plan designed to, increase the visibility, enhance the career development, ensure the sustainability, and provide recognition to our technical workforce.

The survey will go live on 11 April 2023 and will be available for four weeks in order to give plenty of opportunity to complete it.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. Your responses are invaluable and greatly appreciated.          

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What is the National Technician Development Centre?

The National Technician Development Centre (NTDC), funded by HEFCE and the University of Sheffield, was launched in 2017. The Centre aims to enhance the excellence and efficiency of the technical workforce in Higher Education (HE) and address the growing skills gap which threatens our future success in high priority subject areas.   

The Centre aims to help HEIs address the skills gap in a number of ways, including the use of the Technician Skills, Roles and Responsibilities Audit, which includes this survey.    

What is the NTDC Technician Survey?

The NTDC Technician Survey is a comprehensive workforce-planning research tool, designed to help HEIs capture relevant information needed to support workforce planning. It is designed to enable each HEI to capture intelligence to understand their technical workforce, and for the NTDC to understand the sector technical workforce on a wider scale. The survey captures information related to technician roles across an institution. 

Technical Services at the University of Liverpool have worked closely with NTDC staff to develop this version of the survey.      

The findings of this survey, and resulting feedback, will be used to inform future versions of the tool.    

Every participant will also receive a copy of their responses to aid future development.    

Why are we running the NTDC Technician Survey at the University of Liverpool?

As a service, supporting highly specialised and diverse disciplines, we hold a vast array of technical skills. Whilst we have a good understanding of the skills that we currently use to deliver support to teaching and research at the University, it would take us some time to document and demonstrate such an extensive repertoire of capabilities. In addition, many of us have additional skills that we have acquired, sometimes from working elsewhere, or in working in different roles at the University.

These skills may not currently be in use and therefore may not be apparent, but are just as important when considering the extensive skills sets that we hold. This survey will enable us to collect, document and understand the full skills profile of our Technical Services. The survey also collects information on those skills that we as technicians would like to acquire. Having such information will be extremely useful when we are considering training and development, succession planning and when developing new opportunities for current staff members.


Who should complete the survey?

We are inviting all Technical Services staff at the University to complete the survey.     

What will I be asked?

The survey will ask questions related to your role as a technician, your areas of responsibility, and the technical skills and techniques you commonly use in your job.    

What will happen with my responses?

Your responses to the survey will be held confidentially and securely, aligned with data protection guidelines and 2018 Data Protection Act legislation, by the NTDC team. The data will be analysed to evaluate this version of the survey. All project reporting by the NTDC will be done using anonymised data. This will allow us to further understand the technical sector skills gaps at a national level.     

Your data will also be stored by the Academy on behalf of the survey working group at the University of Liverpool.     

The survey and all responses will be housed on Qualtrics, a well-respected online survey platform. To read about Qualtrics and their data storage policies please visit this link    

Once the survey has closed you will receive a Personal Report - a copy of your responses which we recommend you keep to be used as part of your professional development.  

Reports of skill profiles will be made available to Heads of Operations and other relevant Technical Managers to assist in workforce planning. 

A University-wide anonymous report will also be available to demonstrate the in-house skills that are available. This will inform discussions around identifying skills gaps, training and development opportunities, succession planning, and discussions when researchers are considering buying out technician time from Technical Services for grant applications and contracts.   

What are the benefits of taking part?

As stated above, you will have the chance to spend time recording your skills and reflecting on your role. You will then receive a copy of your responses which you should find useful for your own personal career development. The Academy will use the data to identify skill gaps in the workforce and then work with local managers and leaders to investigate ways to further develop our technical workforce. The ultimate goal of this work is to have a positive impact on the career development and progression of all technical staff in higher education. Your feedback will help us ensure that this is achieved.

How long will it take?

The survey should take approximately 40-60 minutes of your time. Once you have started the survey you can return to it at any time using your original link. This will allow you to complete the survey in more than one sitting.    

Will there be a progress bar?

Due to the structure of the survey, there will not be a progress bar demonstrating how far you are through the survey. A progress bar showing you the percentage of questions you have completed would be inaccurate due to the fact that, due to the selections you make during the survey, you will not go through every question.

Can the survey be accessed off-site?

 Yes. The survey is accessed through Qualtrics, which is available online anywhere.

Have Trade Unions been consulted?

Yes, communication was sent to our TU representatives in October 2022.

What have our senior leaders said about this?

Our Technical workforce is very important to the University of Liverpool. Technicians contribute a huge wealth of skills and experience to our mission for education, the student experience and our academic research endeavours. This survey will help us demonstrate the huge wealth of capabilities that we have in the organisation; some of which we may already know but probably, a whole lot more that we do not know about the range of our Technical and related skills. 
Dr. Carol Costello, Director of People and Services

In 2021 the University reaffirmed its pledge to the Technician Commitment, with the aim to provide attractive, clear, consistent, and fulfilling careers for our technical staff, both our current staff base, and future generations. The aim of this survey is to showcase the wide range of skills and experience that we currently have, to identify areas of good practice for potential training and mentoring, and to offer our technicians the opportunity to benchmark their current skills and plan for future development.
Prof. Wiebe van der Hoek, Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor

Is the survey endorsed by our technicians?

The NTDC skills survey gives our technical staff the opportunity to tell everyone about ALL of their experience which means we can absolutely evidence what a skilled workforce we have. From the results, we can identify areas of expertise which we can use to upskill all technicians and also pinpoint exactly what development we need to put in place. The network steering group are fully behind this survey and urge everyone to engage with it.

How long will the survey be open for?

We plan to open the survey on the 20th March and leave it open for five weeks.

Has ethics approval been given for this project?

This survey constitutes a service evaluation for Technical Services at the University of Liverpool. Any data used outside of Technical Services will be anonymised and Research Ethics Committee review, either at Function or University level is not required.     

Please see ‘What will happen with my responses?’ above for an outline of what will happen with the data collected in this survey.