South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) and the University of Gloucestershire have today received approval from the Department for Education to create a state-of-the-art University Technical College (UTC) specialising in Digital Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing.
The SGS UTC, sponsored by SGS, will open in September 2016. The new UTC will create a purpose built training centre for 14-18-year-olds.
The application to open a UTC in Gloucestershire, serving the sub-region, was initiated by the Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, GFIRST. David Owen, Chief Executive for GFIRST comments ‘it is vitally important for the future of the economy that the specialist skills required for our engineering and technical businesses are available in the county. The UTC will be developing the next generation of talent, supporting future workplace requirements, the growth of our existing businesses and our inward investment for the county’.
Designed with employment in mind, the new University Technical College’s learning provision will provide a wide range of transferable skills, real work-related placements, projects and experiences which will prepare students for careers in a number of sectors. The UTC has received considerable support from local employers and partners who have agreed to supply technical support, live projects and mentors to students.
Neill Ricketts, CEO of Forest of Dean based Versarian, was part of the team that secured the UTC comments ‘I am really excited to hear that the UTC will be providing this training to hundreds of young people in Greater Gloucestershire. I have no doubt that those students who pass through our UTC will have considerable advantage over other young people of a similar age’. Other employers involved in the project include GCHQ, Delphi, Glevum, Allcooper and Poeton.
Principal and CEO of SGS and the main sponsor, Kevin Hamblin comments: ‘I was delighted to be asked by the GFIRST Local Enterprise Partnership to consider sponsoring a University Technical College to meet the needs of employers within the region who are seeing huge recruitment difficulties, especially in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing and Digital Technologies. Both of these areas are huge employment sectors for Gloucestershire. A University Technical College focused on these two areas enables capital and investment to be focused on the best possible learning resources for young people who wish to pursue a career in these areas.
I am really thrilled to be working alongside the Baker Dearing Educational Trust on this new University Technical College. University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are technical secondary schools for 14-18 year olds. They offer a broad curriculum that combines an academic education with technical and practical learning. UTCs integrate technical, practical and academic learning. They use the latest equipment and technology to provide an environment where students can thrive and develop the skills employers need’.
SGS College will act as sponsors of the new University Technical College and will work in close partnership with the University of Gloucestershire. Stephen Marston, Vice Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire further adds ‘given our commitments to supporting business growth, employability and progression, sponsoring the UTC would represent a natural and positive step for the University. We are keen to see a UTC developed and will offer it our full support.’
Another huge supporter of the UTC project and an advocate of all that is envisioned at the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park has been local Stroud-based MP Neil Carmichael. Neil has campaigned tirelessly behind the scenes engaging the support of many local employers and groups. Neil adds ‘the case for having a UTC reflects the area’s industrial heritage but, more importantly, rests on local economic growth and employment prospects. In terms of employment almost 25% of all jobs are in manufacturing and engineering through countless small and medium sized businesses. Existing and new firms are impressed with available infrastructure, quality of life for employees, access to markets, notably through supply chains, and the critical mass of innovative and responsive entrepreneurs able to support manufacturing and engineering. I have contacts with a large number of manufacturers and engineers. Virtually all of them report difficulties in recruiting engineers of most disciplines’.
Programmes at the University Technical College will offer students a broad curriculum that combines an academic education with technical and practical learning, which meets all national curriculum requirements. Courses on offer will support progression to higher education, apprenticeships and employment with careers guidance and support an integral part of the curriculum as well as mentoring by the University and employer partners to help facilitate an informed decision concerning career opportunities. The learner experience will mimic a typical working day with full-time working hours and a professional business dress code.
To coincide with the launch of the SGS UTC, a competition open to local secondary and primary schools will be unveiled shortly enabling pupils to get involved with the design of the new UTC utilising the popular on-line game Minecraft.
To keep in touch with developments at the UTC, follow us on twitter @sgsutc or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/sgsutc.