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Science Technician Shortage

Discussion in 'Science' started by EmpiricalScience, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. Empirical Science is a private science company providing practical science support to education in the Nottingham area. We are looking into the problem of the scarcity of laboratory science technicians and their quality. The present professional landscape for school technicians appears to be not conducive to producing sufficient numbers of high quality staff. The part-time employment pattern frequently adopted in schools is often unattractive to career focussed technicians of the calibre that are indispensable to supporting quality practical science learning. Against this background Empirical Science is considering employing and training full-time laboratory technicians who can then be hired out by schools (or industrial labs) on a fixed term contract business supply model. We are contacting several local schools to research the demand.

    I should be interested to learn if you anticipate a potential need in your school to hire technicians on a short term or long term basis for roles including:

    [*]Supply - daily or longer term to cover general prep room activities;
    [*]One-off jobs &ndash; holidays, relocation or short term projects;
    [*]Specialist support &ndash; subject areas needing more specialist knowledge and training;
    [*]Consultancy &ndash; prep room overhaul, tailor-made programmes, guidance and suggestions to increase laboratory support function efficiency, good practice.

  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    In an ideal world, this looks like a fantastic business. The school I know best should be hiring a temporary lab tech as one is off on long term sickness. They won't though. They'll overload the other staff.
  3. I agree with phlogiston here. I am a Science technician, I am a trained and qualified manager and my instincts tell me that while the business theory is interesting, what you will find in practice will be Schools either making more effective use of their current staff or alternatively, if recruitment is to be considered, recruit from a pool of people who will only to happily work for peanuts as a means of supplementing their income as opposed to developing a career within the profession. However, you did ask a question;

    1. No School in Northern Ireland as far as i am aware employs from an "official pool of cover science support staff - similar to that currently used by teachers". Where we have recruited temporary staff in the past, we found this to be unreliable.

    2. In this example, our Principal hired a fully qualified Solicitor, who was unfortunately between jobs to come in and do a small range of one of jobs. I understand this was a private arrangement and the gentleman in question did a great job. We make use of existing classroom support staff, who are on term time contracts to come in and work for a two week period to undertake tthis type of jobs.

    3. Not applicable in our College. However, technicians normally have sufficient skills to provide all of the technical support that we need.

    4. Once again, most schools subscribe to CLEAPSS which provides much of this function that I believe you are describing. It would be an exception for any other outside agency to be employed or contracted to provide any other consultancy.
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Point 4 is provided in various ways by CLEAPSS, ASE and the Science Learning Centres so you would need to work out how your service would fit into that landscape.
  5. Thanks for these useful comments. It is also our experience that all organisations, schools included, first try to tighten their belts when available support resource drops, which is a bad solution for covering staff and bad for the organisation if cover is needed for too long. The distinction between our proposition and CLEAPSS' offering is that we are not an agency - the technicians would be employed in professional roles, full time by Empirical Science and it is our hope that this would prove attractive to encouraging uptake into technician employment.

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