The UK’s response to COVID-19 was severely hampered by the shortage of skilled Laboratory Technicians. This is not a new issue – the chronic and ongoing shortage of technicians was simply highlighted by the pandemic.

The industry is seen by many to be over supplied with graduates who are unsuited to the role and soon leave, and time-served Laboratory Technicians who have limited options to gain recognition for
their technical skills and knowledge.

In a survey of senior Laboratory Technicians only 11% had engaged in vocational education. The vast majority (84%) learned on the job. Tiro’s proposed solution is to develop digital micro credentials in collaboration with industry, which would recognise technical lab skills and reward participants with digital badges.

The project will develop the micro-credentials with industry leading bodies such as the Pirbright Institute. These will be short, bite-sized courses that will feature cutting edge learning content, coupled with workplace tasks that model experiential in-work learning. Two types of credentials are planned: Foundations credentials to develop skills that are applicable to all laboratories e.g. quality assurance, data analysis; and Technical credentials to develop skills for specific lab environments.

An employer platform will be developed alongside, so that employers can track learner progress and identify skills gaps. Skills accreditation will be integrated into the micro-credentials. Endorsement and accreditation will be sought from relevant industry bodies.