Windsor Castle MBE investiture for university technician’s ‘champion’

The University of Nottingham’s most senior technician has received her MBE from His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge.

The investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle followed the announcement of the honour for Director of Technical Skills and Strategy Kelly Vere in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2021 for services to championing the role of technicians in higher education and research institutions.

Kelly Vere and her son Lewis proudly show off her MBE

Unsung heroes

There are currently more than 30,000 technicians employed in UK higher education and research institutions working across all disciplines including engineering, science, health and technology. They will be integral to overcoming some of the great challenges of the coming years and decades – from updating our transport infrastructure and local internet access, to securing the future of our energy supply.

However, an ageing workforce means that 50,000 of our best technicians across all sectors are retiring every year, and forecasts show we will need as many as 700,000 more technicians in the UK over the course of the next decade to meet demand from employers.

Kelly Vere has spearheaded the implementation and development of the University of Nottingham’s Technical Services Strategy to enable the strategic and professional development of the University’s 700+ technical staff across the UK and Asia.

Kelly’s contribution to championing the role of technicians – the ‘unsung heroes’ of research and teaching in UK higher education and research institutions – is unique. She represents the University externally within and beyond the sector, and works with government and funding bodies to influence national policy.

Kelly Vere and family enjoy her special day at Windsor Castle

Kelly rose through the ranks to her current position after joining the University as a junior technician at the age of 18, whilst studying for a part-time degree in Biomedical Science, before rapidly progressing to positions as Senior Research Technician and Laboratory Manager.

Building visibility and recognition for the technical community

Alongside her role at the University of Nottingham, Kelly is on a long term secondment with the Science Council where she leads on engagement with the higher education sector to increase visibility and recognition of technicians. She founded and leads the Technician Commitment – a sector wide initiative funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for the technical community across higher education and research. The Technician Commitment currently stands at over 100 institutional signatory and supporter organisations. In February 2020 it was announced that she would lead a new £5M programme ‘TALENT’, awarded to the Midlands Innovation universities and funded by Research England to advance status and opportunity for the technical community. Kelly has built and developed partnerships with higher education institutions, industry, government departments, funding bodies and learned societies to influence sector activities and policy in the area of technical roles, skills and careers.

Additional external roles include being chair of the Midlands Innovation Technical Skills Strategy Committee and Advance HE’s Athena Swan Professional, Technical and Operational Staff group while also serving on the Challenge Panel for the BEIS Review Review of Research Bureaucracy, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Research Technical Professional Working Group, the Institute of Physics Technical Skills Awards Panel, the Royal Society’s Research System Community of Interest, the Researcher Concordat Strategy Group, the Times Higher Education Awards judging panel, and an advisory board for the Science Museum.

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