Technicians on a union pathway

Technician at work ©Private
Technician at work ©Private

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a bit of a mouthful, but is an extremely important set of words for all of us. At its best, CPD helps build careers and progression and motivate people to develop themselves. It is also best when it is well supported by employers.

Unionlearn’s Technician Pathways project wants to draw the attention to the technicians’ CPD. Technicians work with scientists and engineers in research and manufacturing. You find technical staff everywhere from universities and colleges to rail, healthcare and utilities industry.

Technicians are part of skilled workforce and they are vital to the economy managing and overseeing production, teaching and instructing, solving problems and much more. But how often do we think how important they are for the industry and research in the UK?

EngTechNow project has collected a fascinating list of typical technician job roles in their guidance for employers on professional registration. They mention roles such as project engineers, tool-makers, laboratory technicians, quality analysts and riveters. The sheer variety of skills involved in doing these jobs is remarkable and should be acknowledged and strongly supported by both unions and employers.

It has been great to see unions such as Prospect, TSSA and UNISON, already taking steps to build partnerships with employers and other stakeholders on technician registration. It has also been gratifying to see a number of employers committing to paying for the registration cost and thus recognising the value of this vital part of the workforce. The unions are working out how their learning offer can be enhanced by working with professional bodies. TSSA and Prospect recently signed up to a charter with EngTechNow to take practical steps in supporting technician registration.

It is also good to remember that learning, skills or CPD do not exist in a bubble outside other union business. Being more capable and competent in the workplace makes individuals’ working life less vulnerable and joint work with employers helps to identify each employee group’s support needs. Union learning reps (ULRs) obviously have a strong role here as part of the workplace reps’ team.

CPD is about access and opportunities. It is about learning that enhances technicians’ skills and employability and helps them to develop their own work. Professional registration route (Engineering Technician/EngTech and Registered Science Technician/RSciTech) just maybe the way to help open more and better doors for technicians.

Profile picture for user Kirsi Kekki

Kirsi Kekki

Kirsi Kekki is a unionlearn policy officer working in the Strategy team. She has worked in a number of trade unions in the UK and Finland with a variety of roles from tutoring to organising and project management.

Kirsi is currently looking after English and maths, adult learning and apprentice policy and support to unions.