From education to employment

Science Museum announces Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery

Architect's sketch of the entrance to Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery © JAC Studios

Today the Science Museum (@sciencemuseum) announced Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery (@technicians_mih), a first-of-its-kind interactive gallery aimed at 11 to 16-year-olds which celebrates the vital but often hidden role technicians play in all our lives.

Opening in autumn 2022, this free gallery will invite young people into the extraordinary world of technicians. Featuring a wide variety of technician roles, the gallery will enable visitors to explore where technicians work, hear their extraordinary stories and meet real-life technicians who will lead special activities within the space for families and schools. 

Visitors will experience what it’s like to be a technician through unique interactive exhibits based on the activities technicians perform, such as operating a manufacturing robot, creating visual effects on a blockbuster film set, fixing a wind turbine fault and analysing medicines in a laboratory. 

While the impact of technicians is felt across almost every aspect of our lives, the gallery focuses on the efforts of technicians in four key sectors: advanced manufacturing, creative industries, health science, and energy networks. Crucial technician roles, such as the healthcare technicians who have been such a vital part of our response to the pandemic and the renewable energy technicians fixing wind turbines to help our transition to a low carbon economy, will be highlighted throughout the gallery. These roles also feature in an online article about the impact of technicians and on the gallery’s construction hoarding, both published to mark the announcement of the gallery. 

Although an estimated 1.5 million technicians currently work in the UK – from archaeological and civil engineering technicians to veterinary nurses and welding technicians – too few young people aspire to be technicians or know about these roles and the pathways to them. Demand for these highly skilled roles is increasing, with 800,000 technicians and apprentices desperately needed across the STEM sector. Inspiring more young people to become technicians is crucial to UK innovation, future economic success, and our net zero ambitions.   

Funded by Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery aims to start conversations and change perceptions around technicians while inspiring future generations to consider technical careers. Although career guidance has improved in recent years, young people’s understanding of the role of technicians remains worryingly low with just over a quarter of 13-16 year-olds believing that technician roles are good jobs according to an April 2021 survey by Gatsby’s Technicians Make it Happen campaign. The gallery will address this urgent need by offering a unique career-focused space for young people, where they can imagine themselves as technicians, engage with people whose technical jobs are keeping industries moving and discover the difference technicians make in many walks of life. The gallery will also explore the varied pathways to become a technician, including through new T-levels qualifications such as the health and science T-levels introduced this month.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group, said:

‘Technicians are long overdue their time in the spotlight, as one of the country’s most vital teams, driving economic growth in an amazing range of sectors.

In generating excitement among 11-16 year-olds about technical roles, and challenging out-dated perceptions, this interactive gallery encapsulates our core mission of inspiring futures. 

We are hugely grateful to David Sainsbury and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation for enabling the Science Museum to shine much needed light on these important career choices, particularly at a time when young people are demanding better and earlier careers advice and the chance to shape a greener and more diverse economy.’

Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries said:

‘It is so important that young people are able to make genuine choices about their careers, no matter what path they choose to go down. We want to increase people’s access to well-paid, technical jobs as part of our plans to level-up. This brilliant gallery in the Science Museum will help bring to light many of the fascinating technician jobs that exist and I hope inspire young people from all walks of life to consider a future career in this area.’

David Sainsbury said:

‘The decision about what career we want to pursue is one of the most important of our lives, and if we are to make the best decision, we need to know what type of jobs are available, and what are the educational routes which underpin them.

The roles celebrated in this new Gallery demonstrate that being a technician can be a gateway to social mobility and personal fulfilment for the individual, and offer a chance to play a meaningful part in the prosperity and welfare of the country.

I hope the Gallery will come to be seen as an essential part of the museum, and I would like to thank Sir Ian and his enthusiastic team for the creative and innovative way they have collaborated with my foundation to make it a valuable service for young people.’

Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation as Principal Funder and will open at the Science Museum in autumn 2022. The gallery has been designed by JAC Studios, Denmark. 


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