Setting the right rate for the research infrastructure job

The National Research Infrastructure system is the foundation of national-scale research possible but the skills-mix of the people that keep it running aren’t always appropriately recognised. Directors of 22 NCRIS facilities want to fix this

The problem is that many research infrastructure specialists work for universities, which have HR systems that divide workforces into academic and professional streams and NCRIS infrastructure can cross them both.

The Higher Education Worker professional staff classification system does not accommodate research infrastructure specialists’ scientific knowledge and their tech skills that keep facilities functioning. And academic KPIs can be counter-productive for them. Infrastructure specialists succeed by making other peoples’ research possible, not conducting their own.

What is to be done: The directors propose a “simple, fit-for-purpose classification for RI specialist roles  … such as by creating a new job-family” with its own KPIs.

And why: for a start while RIS are not numerous they service 65 000 clients a year, compared to 81 000 researchers in HE. Plus they are hard, and expensive in terms of lost efficiencies, to replace. “Their loss cannot be easily filled and attracting overseas or domestic talent to these roles can be difficult without clear career progression,” the NCRIS directors state.

Remind you of anybody else?: How about the learning technology community who combine tech and teaching skills and aren’t easily slotted in to either classification.