The National Research Infrastructure system, embodied as a broad set of Commonwealth investments through NCRIS, is a systemic enabler of the nation’s innovation system and should be considered a national asset.
The NCRIS collectively represents a cutting edge and high-capacity technology base for the nation, however the strategic value of the research infrastructure system is primarily achieved by a critical network of scientific and technical leadership and expert personnel. This cohort is now over 1,800 people strong and serves as a significant national asset in its own right.
Highly skilled, NCRIS Research Infrastructure Specialists are predominantly located within the university system. This means that under the institution’s Enterprise Agreement they are either classified as a Professional or an Academic staff member. While these jobs roles are appropriate for some staff within the NRI system, neither of these classifications suit the key role of Research Infrastructure Specialist (RIS). The nature of RI Specialist job roles and responsibilities, which may not well correlate to the performance measures applied in the University Professional and Academic streams, means there is risk of failure to recognise and reward RIS staff and provide development opportunities.
The critical role of the national research infrastructure expert workforce has been appropriately acknowledged in the 2021 NRI Roadmap together with the need for the system to better recognise the important function of those research infrastructure specialists, in order to continue to attract, retain and reward the talent required to maximise our national system.
Prepared by the NCRIS Skilled Workforce working group, the NCRIS Research Infrastructure Specialist Position Paper proposes a new job classification system for these employees. Within this system, RI specialists would be eligible for promotion without the need for role reclassification and change in core duties. However, evaluation for promotion would be based on KPIs more appropriate for RI specialists, reflecting expected progression in job skills, expertise and responsibilities within NRI.
The NCRIS Directors RI Workforce Position Paper is a call to attention and action from all stakeholders in the NRI ecosystem, including the Department of Education, universities, higher education peak representative bodies, and lobby groups. The NCRIS Project Director group is ready to work with our university partners to understand the issue and implement solutions. To maintain Australia’s world-class research infrastructure, RI specialists must be recognised and rewarded for their talents and the immeasurable value they provide to Australia’s economic prosperity.
Click below to download the NCRIS Directors RI Workforce Position Paper.