Is this the beginning of the end for the Science Technician role?

Julie Delaney

COMMITTEE
i was wondering what had happened with that! would be good to get it going again now that covid is on its way out
yeah, I agree, unfortunately life happened and with Neil and Emily going it all sort of stopped. Maybe it could be taken back up with a few new people helping with the running of it?
 
The jobs are out there if you can afford to wait and be selective.
The Lycee in London is offering pro rata £31,000 for a senior.
 
I am noticing a worrying recent trend here, of which below is one example:


£13500 pa for a full time chemistry technician role in London in supposedly one of the best performing London colleges?
I have recently noticed this, but is the new trend now to use "assistant" to bring the wage down? I feel the job description is taking the urine by trying to disguise a typical chemistry technician role into a "washer upper" role to justify the wage.

I just did some quick maths, the hourly wage is below the national living wage (£10.85 per hour) depending on whether you include holiday pay or not....either way it's still shocking.

Is it just me or are wages for techs actually going down despite technicians becoming harder to recruit.
Am I missing something here? Is SLMT literally going "Yea, we are having trouble recruiting, maybe we need to lower the pay?"

Honestly, I am mad at CLEAPSS for advertising this. They campaign for proper wages for techs, yet put such advertisements for free? I would refuse such adverts on principle. It's a total mockery. :mad:

Excuse me, but I need some dark chocolate now.
Oxford Dept of Physics reduced their technician count, I think I was the last 'Research group' technician. Partly why it was a good time to leave.
 
With regard to the 'body to fill the gap' discussion, I think it really does depend on the attitude of the school and the science department. I found out after I had been given the position that prior to me, only 6 other applicants had gone for the job. I'm used to hearing of 5 times that or more going for other kinds of jobs, so hearing that only 6 others had gone for it surprised me.

What also surprised me is that the HoD at the time didn't even consider them for interview. With me, she must have seen something because I was given an interview within a couple of days of applying, and they called me to offer me the job as I was walking through my front door, having only just got back home from said interview. For context, I was told that the first 6 had no experience and insufficient qualifications, and just didn't feel right to them, whereas I have a degree in Astrophysics and Biochemistry dual honours, and though I hadn't been in a lab since 2005 (12 years), you don't really forget the basics (though it did take me a few seconds to remember what the hell a 'Boss' was) so my HoD snapped me up at a time when I didn't think I was worth anyone's time.

So I think it really comes down to the attitude of each individual HoD and department as to whether they will just 'fill the gap' or look for the right person.
 
i was wondering what had happened with that! would be good to get it going again now that covid is on its way out

the phrase techs are ten a penny was lobbied about at one time. Presume it meant anyone could do the job!
TBH, i think anyone with decent intelligence & common sense can. However, there aren't certificates in either of those things & employers tend to go with the usual qualifications. We've had techs in the past that were qualified up to the hilt, but no common sense & absolutely useless, to the point that you wondered how they had lived so long, or managed to get into work each day without some dreadful fate befalling them! o_O
 
Hi @SammiB, 3 of us technicians tried to do something like this back in 'September 2019, we tried to get as many techies on board as we could, we looked at job roles and salary with the aim of trying to improve our lot in terms of raising the techie profile, wages, a universal job description amongst other things. We set up a steering group and the technicians together group. Unfortunately, COVID cam along with the lock down and Neil and Emily left to get much better jobs with much better pay, so it kind of fizzled out. however, if you want to joni the groups and reinstate the "fight" let me know. JD
Hi Julie,
I would love to get involved with this!!! Lets do this for us all now and in the future
 
TBH, i think anyone with decent intelligence & common sense can. However, there aren't certificates in either of those things & employers tend to go with the usual qualifications. We've had techs in the past that were qualified up to the hilt, but no common sense & absolutely useless, to the point that you wondered how they had lived so long, or managed to get into work each day without some dreadful fate befalling them! o_O
Unfortunately it was when we suggested better pay etc a few years ago :( no tech know-how required haha. Very depressing when experience means nothing.
 
Yup, we techs once had to meet with the Old Head individually to talk about role. He actually said "Your job needs no technical know-how at all"
I told him we'd have to agree to disagree.
I think the main issue now is that if people are not replaced until after they leave, someone without any tech related experience is totally in the dark. No handover. We have to remember that some believe we just wash up.
 
I'd have asked him how to go about diluting concentrated hydrochloric acid to give me a litre of 1 molar solution, and when he fails to answer, follow up with asking if that was technical enough, or should we move on to how to safely dispose of bacterial agar plates. Put the muppet on the spot.
 
I'd have asked him how to go about diluting concentrated hydrochloric acid to give me a litre of 1 molar solution, and when he fails to answer, follow up with asking if that was technical enough, or should we move on to how to safely dispose of bacterial agar plates. Put the muppet on the spot.
Quickest way to put the muppets on the spot would just be to ask them what CLEAPSS is
 
This is exactly the reason why I went to our trusts head of H&S about various issues. Vice principal thought it was the technicians responsibility of everything that happens in the labs (same with the HoD!). Ironically, it was me who caught her when she left a room in which I found an opened electrical socket showing its live wires. I used to work with a tech who would work through part of her lunch hour, or cut corners. Made it look like she was doing a good job, HoD loved her (I wonder why?!), but I reported this too, as this type of behavior is damaging for our role. End of the day, I felt that raising these issues would show why the school needs a technician, and funnily enough, two science tech job adverts came out a few days after I did this!
 
I think when you really get down to it, if one learns about the financial system you just see one big root of the problem. Youtube 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman).
 
For me I think one of the key problems for us as a profession is the decreasing emphasis on the need for students to actually get off their stools and do some practical work. When the required practical details were published our department head was rather horrified at both the simplicity and lack of range of practicals. We did and still do more than twice the number "required" and not as demos. If Universities/Colleges and employers are not going to make a stand to ensure good practical skills are being taught though all the Key stages, I can see us becoming a dying breed. The simpler you make our job the more likely a school is to fail to replace retiring/leaving staff or to shave off technician hours or try it on with wages. What we need right now is some recognition that the current students are lacking in practical abilities due to lockdown and for someone in power to recognise this is a bad thing. Who can do this? Not us unfortunately. Luckily I have a HOD who is old school and wants students to be doing practical work as much as possible not just enough to get past the minimum requirement. This means they were adamant that hours for a retiring technician were retained for the new post. They recognise there will be a lot of catching up to do for students - more work for me but if I didn't enjoy it I'd go and do something else. Do I think we're underpaid for what we do, frankly yes but only because we know it's not a monkey/typewriter job, the trick is to get those in power to do the same.
 
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