Thousands of technicians will be needed each year across industry to deliver the government’s new Industrial strategy, Lord Sainsbury has warned.
Lord Sainsbury, who chaired the government’s independent panel on technical education, has spoken out on the success of a campaign aiming to encourage young people into technical careers.
From 2019, the government will pump more than £500M a year into new “T-Levels” to reform the technical education system. Currently there are around 13,000 separate technical qualifications – in plumbing alone, a young person has the choice of 33 different courses. The government hopes that the new simplified system will have wide-reaching benefits for the economy by boosting the productivity of UK businesses.
Lord Sainsbury said: “If young people are to benefit from the opportunities that the reform of our country’s technical education system will bring, we must showcase the breadth of technician careers in the UK. There are thousands of vacancies open across industries right now, and the high-growth areas identified in the government’s Industrial Strategy will depend on a talented and skilled technician workforce, but if young people don't know about these careers, why would they make a choice to train for them?”
Technicians Make it Happen was launched last year by the Gatsby Foundation in an attempt to expose the breadth of these crucial roles that go unfilled across the UK. Recruiting technicians poses a huge threat to the success of the Industrial Strategy, given that 25% of employers working in science, technology, engineering and maths report difficulty in finding skilled workers. Technicians Make it Happen seeks to address this by challenging stereotypes and showcasing the integral role of technicians to modern society. In it’s first year, more than 30 leading organisations pledged their support, including the BBC, IBM, Microsoft, Siemens and Toyota.
The second phase of the campaign aims to support the uptake of “T-Levels” and high-quality apprenticeships as alternatives to more well-trodden education routes, by featuring many real-life technicians who have forged successful careers by undertaking non-academic further and higher education.
Josh Uwadiae left and David Sainsbury right
To show the range of technician careers available, technicians working in space flight, motor sports, botany and theatre are amongst those who have fronted the campaign to inspire future generations. Commanding stories, pictures and artefacts have toured the UK, and a national photography competition was launched last year to engage public audiences.
Josh went from high school dropout to founder of his own company by the age of 22. His story features in the campaign, as an apprenticeship with Microsoft put him on the path to becoming a technician, and now he is CEO of
Lord Sainsbury said: “An increased awareness of technical careers, through campaigns such as Technicians Make It Happen, coupled with the overhaul and simplification of our technical education system, will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of many young people, their families, and our economy as a whole.”

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