STEMNET has announced a nationwide hunt for technicians who can inspire the next generation to fill a skills gap described as critical to the future of our economy.
The Inspirational Technician Award, supported by Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation, will recognise the excellent work of technicians who inspire young people to follow technical careers. The award aims to improve public perceptions of a profession in high demand by employers and is one of five categories within The National STEMNET Awards 2011, sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The other awards will recognize the UK’s Most Dedicated STEM Ambassador, Teacher, STEM Club and Employer and all winners will receive a trip to CERN, courtesy of STFC, as part of their prize.
Technicians are skilled professionals who solve practical problems through the creative use of techniques and procedures. They work across UK industry and academic disciplines supporting and facilitating the work of scientists and engineers - serving as the bridge that connects the two.
There is a serious shortage of technicians today. The 2010 National Strategic Skills Audit described technicians as a “high priority area of critical importance to the economy.” A 2010 report by Manpower identified technicians as sixth in a list of jobs that UK employers are having difficulty filling. There will, therefore, be plenty of opportunities for qualified technicians in the future.
However a major problem facing the technician profession is a lack of understanding of the job and the career paths available. An Engineering UK report last year found that perceptions of what technicians do was significantly lower amongst the UK population than for their colleagues in Europe. 20% of men and 30% of women admitted to knowing nothing about what technicians do and understanding of the profession was particularly poor amongst younger age groups. 
Lord Sainsbury said:
“In the past there have not been well-established routes for young people to acquire technician qualifications which are valued by employers, and which, therefore, help young people to get better paid and more exciting jobs.
Two major new initiatives have recently been launched to improve the situation. Firstly, a Technician Council has been set up to promote the Registered Technician qualification across the engineering, ICT, health and other professional bodies, and secondly, the new University Technical Colleges will be seeking to align their teaching with these new qualifications.
These two initiatives will over time open up many new opportunities for young people to acquire technician qualifications which work in the marketplace, and I hope the Inspirational Technician Award will encourage more people to take up the challenge of communicating to young people the exciting opportunities opening up to them to become registered technicians.”
The UK’s first ever winner of the Inspirational Technician Award will be announced by Lord Sainsbury at an awards ceremony at the House of Lords in December and sees STEMNET and the Gatsby Foundation joined by partner organizations including The Science and Technology Facilities Council, sponsors of The National STEMNET Awards 2011.
There’s no limit to the number of categories you can nominate in and all finalists will be decided by an expert panel. The closing date for nominations is Monday 3rd October. For more information please contact Natasha Warren at or take a look at
This story is reprinted from material from STEMNET, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.