Skills and Responsibility Capture Tool (Workstream Two)

Frequently asked questions

Research by the Technician Council has found that the UK must educate another 450,000 technicians across all sectors by 2020 to address a massive skills shortage. The University of Sheffield has secured funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to pioneer work to enhance the excellence and efficiency of the technical workforce in higher education.

This work aims to address the growing skills gap in a number of ways, focussing primarily on addressing career progression within the higher education technician community.

One of the main objectives of the HEFCE Catalyst Project is to develop a toolkit to be used by higher education institutions across the UK which helps identify and address their local skill needs. A key tool in this kit is a Skills Capture Survey - an online questionnaire to help institutions capture information about the breadth and level of skills their technical workforce possess. Alongside this we will be developing further tools and guidance to enable career progression in the higher education technical community.

As the lead institution of the HEFCE project, project staff in collaboration with Sheffield University's faculty based technical community have developed a pilot version of the Skills Capture Survey. The survey now needs to be piloted with faculty based technical staff in order to establish how effectively it captures all relevant information at all levels across the range of technical areas within the five faculties. This will inform further revision of the survey which will then be piloted in a number of partner universities.

What are the issues the survey hopes to address?

  • A need for greater strategic technical workforce planning and talent management
  • For HEIs to take this forward they need a clear understanding of:
    • What their technicians actually do (their skills and responsibilities)
    • Any skills gaps (current and future)
    • The development needs of their technical staff to ensure a professional workforce and opportunities for individual career development

What will I get asked?

The survey will ask questions related to your role as a technician, your areas of responsibility and the skills and techniques you commonly use in your job. The skills list was added to by our Technical Managers to ensure that our skills are reflected in the skills long list.

We are inviting all Technical Services staff at the University of Exeter to complete the survey.

Participation in this survey is optional and there is no penalty for not taking part.  However, we strongly encourage everyone to take part because credibility of the project can only be achieved with input from technical staff.  There are no correct answers and we would ask you to be as open as possible when responding to the questions.  You can withdraw from the survey at any time without giving a reason.

How do I access the survey?

  • Everybody will be emailed their own individual link to the survey.
  • You can complete the survey on any computer/device with an internet connection.
  • The survey should be completed during your normal working hours.

How long do I have to complete the survey?

  • Time it takes to complete the survey can vary depending on the individual and the institution. Average time taken is between 30-60 minutes to complete (depending upon your skill set). The survey does not have to be completed in one sitting - you can come back to it as many times as you like, but it must be submitted before the closing date for the survey.
  • The survey will be launched on 3 October 2016 and will close on 2 December 2016. 
  • It may be possible to arrange a drop in session in a computer room if staff are having problems accessing computers. Please let the survey organiser know if this is something you would like to be organised.

Benefits to individuals

There are a number of benefits for staff who complete the survey:

  • Technical staff will have the chance to spend time recording their skills. This data can be used in subsequent applications for memberships with professional bodies and professional registration.
  • You will have the opportunity,during working hours, to think about what you currently do in your role, the University and beyond.
  • All participants will receive a copy of their responses, which they may find useful for their own personal career development.
  • Assisting Technical Services to collate detailed information on the most essential areas for skills improvement.

Benefits to Technical Services

  • Collection of skill and responsibility data that can be used to help with career and personal development of our technical staff.
  • Identify training gaps - gaps where our staff have responsibilities or tasks they are not currently trained in.
  • Help identify current roles and responsibilities of our technical staff.
  • Provision of accurate information to enhance career and succession planning activities.
  • Inform senior management of career and professional development opportunities to help shape our development framework/training matrix.
  • Improved organisational knowledge.

The goal of this survey is to have a positive impact on the career development and progression of all technical staff in higher education. Your feedback will help us, and the TDM project, ensure that this is achieved.

If we do not conduct a skills audit making effective decisions about skills management is nearly impossible.

See some of the feedback received from Sheffield University technical staff, and University of Exeter Technical Services managers who have already completed the survey.



  • “The survey did challenge every area of a technician’s role and I feel my role was well addressed. Thank you”.
  • “In my opinion, it was a comprehensive survey, very well produced. Thank you”.
  • “Very extensive survey covering a broad range of skills”.
  • “The survey was user friendly and really identified the areas of work associated with the role of a technician in HE”.
  • “I found the survey to be useful and reflective”.
  • “I think the report is very useful. I am just filling out my RsciTech professional registration for the IST. This PDF means I can easily view and list my range of skills and competencies by referencing this document”.


  •  “An extensive survey that covered most technical area”.
  • “The survey was clear and easy to understand. Easy to relate to the skills and had fine detail to clearly show the skill level”.
  • “I think the survey covered a wide range of skills and was able to capture past as well as current skill sets”.
  • “Very easy to understand with a clear English and it covered all the aspects e.g. biological sciences, physics, etc of technical skill”.

If you believe you should have received a link to complete the survey and did not, please Click here to request link. Your link should arrive within one working day of sending the email.

First please check your inbox for the original email:

You should have received the survey link from on 3 Oct 16.

If you still cannot find your original link, please Click here to request link. Your link should arrive within one working day of sending the email.

The survey states that the data will be held confidentially within the project (The project in this instance refers to the HEFCE TDM project and the Technical Services Steering group at the University of Exeter). This will be done in accordance with Data Protection requirements. Data shared with their Technical Manager, on a confidential basis, will only be done with the respondent express agreement. In the Technical Manager reports, we will also clearly state that this information is shared on a confidential basis and with the express permission of the respondent.

All reporting, both within the University and to HEFCE will be anonymised aside from the Technical Managers Report. Information shared as part of these Technical Manager Reports will be on a confidential basis. Non-anonymised information will only be shared with the express agreement of the respondent. At the end of the survey participants will be offered the decision of whether their information is included in Technical Manager Reports anonymously or confidentially (detail given in the section on Consent) Reports / Information shared as part of the feedback process will be done so through password protected files.

All information shared outside the University and with HEFCE will be anonymised.

Data Storage

The survey will be conducted using Qualtrics, a well-respected, web based survey management company. The data will be held securely via the web and in accordance with Data Protection requirements. Access to the survey is managed by Chris Turgoose, lead co-ordinator for this section of the project and a survey administrator. A deputy will be agreed as the survey is finalised to ensure continuity in case of illness etc.

The complete (raw) Qualtrics survey data at the University of Exeter will be kept securely on our servers and will only be accessible to the Technical Services Steering group.

Potential concerns of participants and mitigating actions

1. Without clear communication you may misunderstand the purpose of the study and this may cause you to be concerned that there is a hidden agenda.

  • Participation in this survey is optional and there is no penalty for not taking part. However, we strongly encourage everyone to take part because credibility of the project can only be achieved with input from all our technical staff.
  • This survey is to be used for CPD, professional development, skills and training gap analysis and succession planning. It is in no way part of any transformation programme/restructuring.
  • There are no correct answers and we would ask you to be as open as possible when responding to the questions.
  • There will be no repercussions for staff who do not complete the survey.
  • You have access to project staff (via email / phone) during the survey who will answer any queries / concerns you may have.
  • You will be provided with your responses, after the survey closes, which you can use to support your CPD.

2. Completing a questionnaire may be time consuming and inconvenient which may impact on your workload.

  • We have asked for the support of Technical Managers, HoDs, Academic Leads and College Registrars to support and encourage the completion of the survey.
  • The survey should be completed during normal working hours and may be completed over a number of sittings.
  • The survey will be open between 3 Oct 16 and 2 Dec 16 allowing you 2 clear months to complete the survey.

3. You may feel uncomfortable about answering questions regarding your skills which you consider sensitive information.

  • The data collected will be held 'in confidence' by the project and any reporting that attaches your name to your data will only be done with your express permission. All other reporting of data will be done anonymously.
  • We do not intent to provide feedback, within the anonymous reports, on any question which contains the responses of 10 people or fewer.
  • Where we can we will aggregate data for reporting, however, we are clear that in some cases, where skill areas are particularly specialised, this may not be possible. If need to we will manage expectations around this.

If you have any further questions related to the survey or the project in general, please use the Queries/Comment Form.