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A message from Wayne Keating, Interim FSE Technical Review Project Sponsor

13 Jun 2022

Last month (25 May 2022), the Board of Governors approved the University entering into formal consultation with the trade unions on proposals for the strategic and structural changes to the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) Technical Operations.

Through the FSE Technical Review, a new structure is being developed for Technical Operations which addresses historic issues of duplication and silo working, whilst ensuring that Faculty’s, Schools and Departments are appropriately supported.  

This structure is more flexible, agile and responsive to the evolving nature of technical operations as well as the strategic direction of teaching and research within the Faculty. It also provides staff with the opportunity to gain new skills whilst providing quality career opportunities.  

The Review encompasses four cohorts. Cohort 1, which successfully concluded in October 2020, focused on the new managerial / leadership level (at Grade 8 and Grade 7). It also agreed in principle to the new single workforce, operating as an agile, interconnected unit with technicians grouped by function and organised into five service groups:   

  • Research  
  • Teaching 
  • Infrastructure & Facilities 
  • Workshops 
  • Computing & Robotics  

Cohort 2 included structures for the Computing & Robotics, Infrastructure & Facilities and Workshop Teams and was implemented in December 2021. Following the implementation of Cohort 2 all remaining main campus staff (Cohort 3) were organised according to the five service groups in an aligned structure allowing the Faculty to begin to provide a dedicated team for each core technical function with clear reporting lines for all technical staff.  

This also allowed us to make significant progress in delivering efficiencies, working towards greater cost recovery and a high-quality service provision. 

Cohort 3 encompasses the remaining two service groups Research and Teaching and will complete the final on-campus component of staff and services comprising around 200 members of technical staff. 

The workforce structures proposed have been informed by significant analysis, planning and stakeholder consultation. They remove historical departmental boundaries to create functional areas and critical mass across areas such as mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, research laboratories and teaching laboratories, enabling a line of sight and efficiencies of scale across all technical business areas including specialisms.  Importantly, the structures align with the needs of the academic community meeting the principles of shared space to enable effective multi and interdisciplinary working, improving overall space quality to accommodate new ways of working in MECD. 

Cohort 4 will consider all off campus activities such as Jodrell Bank Observatory, Harwell and Dalton Cumbrian Facility – noting that staff at these sites are structured to support specific facilities, but need to be embedded within the wider Technical Services community.  

Next steps 

We begin consulting with the Trade Unions about the proposed changes for Cohort 3 on Wednesday, 15 June 2022.

FSE Heads of Technical Operations and Heads of School Operations will begin local briefings on the same day (Wednesday, 15 June 2022) with those staff in Cohort 3 to share the proposed structures and job descriptions.  

The University and Faculty is committed to ensuring that this process is conducted fairly and transparently, in line with our policies and procedures. We recognise that this can be an anxious time for staff and we will do our best to support colleagues through this change. 

More details about FSE’s Technical Review and support that is available can be found here. Full Cohort 3 details will be available on StaffNet after the local briefings.

From July we expect to start conversations with individual colleagues as we begin to populate the new structure. Once roles are assigned, the aim is to begin implementing new structures shortly thereafter.  We envisage that this will be fully implemented by November 2022. 

 

Wayne Keating 
Interim Director of Faculty Operations and Technical Review Project Sponsor 
Faculty of Science and Engineering