Q. They are an expensive option compared to permanent staff
A. Contract Staff are usually a temporary solution for our clients who are short staffed or very busy for short periods of time. By using contract staff you can add an experienced technician to the team almost immediately who would need very little training and who can perfom the day to day duties needed to alleviate any pressures in the department without the costly and time consuming aspect of advertising for, and recruiting permanent staff.
Q. Why do you say that having a contract person if often more cost effective than employing our own staff?
A. Often you may only be needing a member of staff for a short period of time and so recruiting your own staff can be costly as to the investment required in advertising, training and development etc for a member of staff who is only required on a temporary basis. The contract option removes this complication. Both of our contract coordinators are ex animal technicians themselves which means they have an in depth knowledge of the industry and will find you the right member of staff to suit your needs in a timely efficient manner.
Q. Agenda are more expensive than every body else because we have to pay accommodation and travel over and above the hourly cost whereas others have one fixed cost so we know exactly what we are paying each week.
A. Some of Agenda's competitors use a flat rate which leads you to believe there is only one cost, it is more than likely that this rate will still incorporate the cost of the technician's travel/accommodation. Agenda are happy to negotiate all inclusive rates but many of our clients prefer the separate costing as it allows them to see the breakdown of their outgoings.
Also some competitors will only put forward local staff to eliminate the need for accommodation but this will reduce staff availability, however we have technicians nationwide which mean our short notice availability is very good.
Q. How many contract technicians do Agenda have and can we supply someone at short notice.
A. The number of technicians is obviously variable however we average between 30 - 40 technicians out and working every month and can provide staff at short notice the vast majority of the time.
Q. You say you do pre-employment screening? What does this entail/include?
A. All our staff are comprehensively security screened to ensure they have not had nor currently have any affiliations with animal rights groups but also confirms their previous employment and references, their right to work in the UK plus many others. Our comprehensive check vastly exceeds the amount of checks required by the British Standards Authority, Government Baseline and the recommended industry requirements.
Q. We are concerned about Lab Animal Allergy what support do you give your staff?
A. All candidates are subject to a pre employment health screening and issued with a fit for work certificate before they go out on placement. Agenda employ a qualified occupational health nurse to carry out this screening and monitor the health of our technicians. This is carried out bi-annually as well as weekly enquiries by the contracts co-ordinators as to the technicians general health and well being.
Q. Other suppliers have their own animal facilities, how do Agenda train their staff?
A. Agenda staff must all have a minimum animal qualification in Animal Care such as an NVQ or BTEC or at least have substantial proven experience in an animal care field.
Agenda compile a personalised profile for every technician so the clients are fully aware of each candidate's skills and most are eager to help us introduce new staff who have the ability and desire to work with animals particularly in the animal technology field.
Q. We believe in continual Professional Development what does Agenda do to ensure that their staff stay up-to-date and develop their careers?
A. Agenda provide a training bank account once staff have completed their six month probationary period. This is a sum of £400 per year which they may use to attend training courses such as the IAT, apply for their home office licence, indeed anything which will help them progress right up to and including contributing to driving lessons to enable the technician become more mobile and easier for them to commute, cutting the need for accommodation.
Q. Some agencies only pay staff when they are working on a contract what happens at Agenda?
A. There are two different contracts which Agenda staff may choose from, temporary or permanent. Agenda technicians on permanent contracts are employed on a full time basis by Agenda which gives our staff the reassurance that if in the very rare circumstance there isn't a placement available they are still paid.
Alternatively temporary contracts allow the technician the freedom to be specific about the areas they will or won't work and can take extended periods of leave to go travelling for example but they are not paid for the periods they do not work.
Q. Is there a career path for Agenda techs and how long do your techs stay with you?
A. As previously mentioned the training bank account is available for technicians personal advancement and progression. Some use Agenda simply as a way of gaining some experience before settling into a more local role without the travelling while others stay with us for years. We have several technicians with us who have previously left us to persue other interests but have since returned to us, sometimes on more than one occasion.
We also have technicians who began with us as juniors and have now gained and are using their Home Office Licence, employed as senior technicians and some cases even as facility management!
Q. What's it like to be an animal technician?
A. Animal technicians are responsible for the care and welfare of all the animals used in medical research alongside some experimental work. As an animal technician you have day to day contact with animals including providing food and water, carrying out observations, general cleaning and care of the animals and monitoring the weight and growth of the animals in your care. As an animal technician you will come into contact with a variety of animals. The most common ones you will come across are mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs, however sometimes you will also work alongside other animals such as monkeys, dogs, cats and farm animals. All animal technicians have to follow strict guidelines set out by the Home Office which are in place to ensure that all animals used in medical research are well looked after and humanely treated.
Q. What hours do animal technicians work?
A. Animal technicians work a variety of hours as animals need care 24 hours a day all year round. Hours are usually worked out on a rota system which can include weekends and bank holidays. Animal technicians typically work a 37 hour week, however in some cases part time work is available.
Q. What is the pay like as an animal technician?
A. Junior animal technicians can expect to earn between £12,000 and £15,000 per year. Qualified/Licensed and experienced technicians can expect to earn between £15,000 and £20,000 per year. Senior Technicians can expect to earn £20,000 and above. However salaries are often dependent upon area and company as there are no national pay scales for this industry.
Q. What general skills and interests do I need to become an animal technician?
A. Any individual who is looking for a career as an animal technician needs to be committed to the care and welfare of animals in general. They need to be able to pay close attention to detail, have the ability to work as part of a team and be able to keep accurate records.
Q. What kind of qualifications do I need when looking for a job in the animal technology industry?
A. Although there are no specific entry requirements for a junior role, employers would expect you to have the minimum of GCSE's Maths, English and Science (Grades A-D) or equivalent. For some roles you may be expected to have further qualifications such as A-Levels or industry specific ones such as BTEC in Animal Management or Certificate of the Institute of Animal Technology (CIAT). It is always useful when looking for work in this industry, to have had experience of with animals such as kennel work or pet shop work.
Q. How do I progress once in the industry?
A. Once you have started work with a company, you will receive training on the job and will learn how to undertake routine tasks that enable the animals to be looked after according to the home office guidelines. Before you can participate in any of the scientific procedures that take place you must have a Home Office licence. In order to obtain a Home Office licence you will need at least one years experience in the animal technology industry and complete a short training course. This is all part of the Home Office's regulations regarding the usage of animals in research. You may have the opportunity to work towards NVQ's in Animal Technology and take The Institute of Animal Technology qualifications that range from IAT certificate in Laboratory Animal Husbandry through to BSc degrees. From this you can progress to a Membership or Fellowship diploma and can then apply to join the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer's register.