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NVQ first for Animal Technicians

Dr Paul Watkins (centre) with Anne Cornish and Lionel Wheeler, the first two recipients of the NVQ level 3 in Animal Technology

Dr Paul Watkins (centre) with Anne Cornish and Lionel Wheeler, the first two recipients of the NVQ level 3 in Animal Technology John Conibear

31 March 2008

Two members of staff in the Animal Service Unit (ASU) were recently each awarded an NVQ level 3 in Animal Technology. Lionel Wheeler and Anne Cornish, both Animal Technicians based in the ASU, are the first people in the country to achieve this qualification.

The ASU is responsible for the care and maintenance of animals used in research, and provides services for research staff in the Faculties of Medical and Veterinary Sciences, Medicine and Dentistry, and Science. Staff are expected to work with a range of animal species, so training is paramount, and is a crucial part of the ‘culture of care’.

The University has switched in recent years from the traditional training of Animal Technicians (involving ‘day release’ to local colleges, and studying for qualifications gained by examination from the Institute of Animal Technology) to the more appropriate National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in Animal Technology.

NVQs are workplace-based qualifications – awarded by external verifiers, City and Guilds – that develop, and formally recognise, competencies. They provide proof of competency, and a match between the employer’s needs and the employee’s skills. They provide a standard definition the person’s job and an objective measure of an individual’s skills, irrespective of age, background and so forth. Levels range from 1 (Foundation Level) to 5 (Senior Management Skills). Many of the staff in ASU have either achieved or are working towards NVQ Level 2.

Dr Paul Watkins, Director of ASU, said: ‘This is a significant achievement for the individuals involved, and we hope it will encourage others to undertake the training. The department ensures that all those working towards an NVQ have time set aside to allow them to undertake the assignments required. We also ensure active involvement by senior staff to act both as mentors as well as internal verifiers.

‘The introduction of the NVQ programme demonstrates the University’s commitment to training and career development for those staff who work with animals used in research. We hope, in conjunction with training providers, to continue to develop the NVQ programme in Animal Technology, and in doing so ensure that staff have the competencies to support the research involving animals undertaken in the University.’

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