Winner Nikki Cusworth will help inspire young people to look at outstanding careers  opportunities on offer to technicians working in STEM subjects in the UK

Nikki Cusworth, a quality improvement technician at Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company has won the UK’s Inspirational Technician Award supported by young people’s charity STEMNET and Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation. She received the award for her work mentoring local school girls interested in technical careers, and introducing primary school children to fun engineering related projects and paper bridge-building exercises in the classroom.
Accepting the award, Nikki said: “If I am successful in encouraging others to follow in my footsteps it is because I get excited when I talk about my job.  As a technician you are really valued by your employers and I hope that by working with young people, I can inspire them to find a rewarding career which they will love as much as I do.”
The introduction of the Inspirational Technician Award follows recognition from government of a shortage of technicians, particularly in STEM areas in the UK. Last year’s National Strategic Skills Audit described the role of technicians as a “high priority area of critical importance to the economy”. Through this new award STEMNET and Gatsby aim to improve public perceptions of a profession in high demand by employers.
The award is one of five categories within The National STEMNET Awards 2011, sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The prizes celebrate the achievements of thousands individuals, schools and businesses in inspiring young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
The winners were announced recently at an event in the House of Lords by Lord Sainsbury of Turville, and the Rt. Hon. Dr. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Other winners, who all received an exclusive visit to CERN as part of their prize, courtesy of STFC and CERN, were:
Rhys Phillips (STEM Ambassador)
Works within EADS Innovation Works UK as a Research Engineer in the Lighting, Electrostatics & EMH group. Rhys sits on the South West Wales Network of the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) and broadcasts a weekly STEM radio show on Radio Cardiff.
NIS integrated engineering Ltd (STEM Employer)
A specialist integrated engineering company based in Chorley, Lancashire. Committed to supporting the innovation and skills supply which are critical to the sustainability of their sector, NIS Ltd now have an in-house STEM Team which is active in the local community.
Framwellgate School Durham (STEM Club)
The STEM Club at Framwellgate School Durham has been meeting on a weekly basis for over three years. Now embedded into school life, the STEM Club welcomes members from multiple year groups to compete at national events including The Big Bang.
James Murphy, St Mungo’s High School, Falkirk (STEM Teacher)
Head of Science at St Mungo’s High School, James has coordinated over forty enriching STEM activities for his students, involving local STEM Ambassadors.
Kirsten Bodley, STEMNET, Chief Executive, said:
“STEMNET aims to address the employer demand for technical skills and support young people in understanding their value. We plan to do this by providing support for schools and other youth organisations trying to demonstrate the career paths into these key jobs. Our activities benefit more than 600,000 young people every year and leverage over £7m per annum into STEM support for schools and colleges through in-kind support from employers and volunteers. We hope that through this award, we can add to this work and encourage a change in how the public, and young people in particular, view a career as a technician.”
Lord Sainsbury said:
“The UK benefits from a huge network of people dedicated to inspiring young people in STEM. Their commitment and hard work is paying dividends - in the last 5 years the numbers taking Physics and Chemistry A-levels have increase by around 20%, and perhaps most significantly Maths A-level is up by nearly 50%. The prizes awarded today recognise the most inspirational individuals and organisations for the ways in which they have been motivating young people in STEM, enabling them to access new skills and hopefully get better paid and more exciting jobs when they enter the world of work.”
STEMNET creates opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This enables young people to develop their creativity, problem-solving and employability skills, widens their choices and supports the UK’s future competitiveness. STEMNET helps encourage young people to be well informed about STEM, able to engage fully in debate, and make decisions about STEM related issues. STEMNET have around 200 employees registered as STEM Ambassadors.