The Gatsby Foundation and the Science Council have set up a professional registration for technicians to improve the image of the role with young people and create a qualification recognised and valued by employers.
To register, an individual needs to prove their competence to perform professional work to the necessary standards by providing evidence that they have certain skills.
The individual must also demonstrate commitment to maintain competence, work within professional codes and participate actively within the profession.
The registration framework being developed will provide a vocational ladder to the professions, comprising three ‘rungs’ of professional standards, beginning at level 3, with ‘Registered Technician’ status being awarded for Engineering, ICT and Science (EngTech, ICT-Tech, RSci-Tech). The highest level will result in ‘Chartered’ status (CEng, CSci, CPhys, etc).
Professional bodies will set the benchmarks for these standards and map qualifications against them. It is hoped that this will counter problems caused by the varied salaries and roles labelled as technicians, increase skills levels, and create a qualification recognised by employers.
At present, there are too many awarding bodies making for a complex skills landscape. According to The Gatsby Foundation, this complexity causes problems in promoting technician roles to young people, lowering the numbers entering the profession.
Too few people are choosing to train as technicians and employers are struggling to find the skilled technicians that their businesses need to survive and thrive as standards have dropped.
A report from the Technician Council predicted that the UK will need to have trained 450,000 technicians by 2020 to meet demand.
It is hoped that Registered Technician status will help employers differentiate between skill levels and create a qualification that will be of use to young people.
Lord Sainsbury, who established The Gatsby Foundation, stated three key areas that need addressing to resolve the problems and entice more young people into the role:
- “We need to establish a well understood system of technical qualifications that work in marketplace. This may seem simple but over the last 50 years we have failed to do that. We need a system of qualifications that are well understood by business, not hundreds that no one knows about. We used to have that in HND and HNC qualifications, but, if anything, we’ve gone backwards. They must work in the marketplace. This means that someone with the qualification will get a job over someone without that qualification as employer knows that the individual has a set of technical skills.
- We need appropriate infrastructure to delivery these qualifications. This includes suitably qualified lecturers as well as laboratories and workshops of equipment that reflect the modern workplace.
- We need a simplified funding system that supports this vision and gives young people and adults the opportunity to acquire the skills that employers need. We now need government to produce a funding system that supports rather than hinders.