STEMNET has launched an award to find the country’s most inspiring and innovative technicians.
The Inspirational Technician Award is supported by Former Minister of Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation and will celebrate technicians who can inspire young people to follow in their footsteps and fill a critical skills gap.
It is one of five categories within The National STEMNET Awards 2011, sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and aims to improve public perceptions of technical professions, described by the 2010 National Strategic Skills Audit as a “high priority area of critical importance to the economy.”
“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,” said Lord Sainsbury.
“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.”
STEMNET has identified a lack of understanding of the job and career paths available as a major problem in recruiting technicians, with a 2010 report by Manpower revealing that technicians are sixth in a list of jobs that UK employers are having difficulty filling.
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, with 20 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women admitted to knowing nothing about what technicians do.
Understanding of the profession was particularly poor amongst younger age groups, the study showed.
Lord Sainsbury said that two major new initiatives had been recently launched to improve this situation, including the set-up of a Technician Council to promote the Registered Technician qualification across the engineering, ICT, health and other professional bodies, and the new University Technical Colleges which would 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,” he added.
“At a time when technical skills are in such demand by employers, STEMNET provides support for schools trying to demonstrate the career paths into these key jobs,” said Kirsten Bodley, STEMNET chief executive.
“Through our nationwide volunteer scheme, The STEM Ambassadors Programme, STEMNET has always found professionals whether they are technicians, scientists or engineers to be the best people to banish stereotypes and inspire young people about their potential in STEM careers.
“We hope that through this award, we will discover a range of passionate role models who can bring about a change in how the public view a career as a technician.’’
The winner of the Inspirational Technical Award will be announced at an awards ceremony at the House of Lords in December.
See the STEMNET awards website