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Employment skills set for boost at new University Technical College

University of Derby

University of Derby

A University Technical College to develop engineering and technology skills in young people – run by the University of Derby, Derby College and an employer group including Rolls-Royce – has received Government approval.

The Department for Education announced that the partnership’s bid for University Technical College (UTC) status – submitted last year (2012) after consultation with businesses, schools and other stakeholders – had been granted. The partnership includes the University, Derby College, Rolls-Royce, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd and Derby City Council.

The UTC is set to open in September 2014. In collaboration with local stakeholders and employers, concerned with the education and training of young people aged 14 to 19, it will provide normal curriculum studies alongside engineering and technology skills promotion.

Students aged 14 and upwards will study engineering alongside core GCSE subjects of English, Maths, Science, ICT and a modern language. Their programmes will also include skills such as health and safety, business studies, entrepreneurship, financial practices, and will include valuable work placement and internship opportunities.

The UTC will have specialist status for engineering and science. It will develop as a specialist education centre in advanced manufacturing, product design and materials science, with a specific focus on advanced composites and sustainability in engineering.

A key factor in forming the plans for the UTC has been the East Midlands’ Skills Priorities Statement (a regularly updated strategy, detailing the employment skills needing to be developed to support the region’s long term economy).

The Statement has identified priority industry sectors for Derby and Derbyshire to include aerospace, automotive, defence, marine and rail; as well as a need to train young people in technician and management level skills, to address potential future skills gaps due to sectors’ aging workforces.

Research has also shown training will increasingly need to support manufacturing companies in adopting new technologies, and moving towards more efficient and environmentally sensitive processes.

Professor John Coyne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “The University of Derby has a growing School of Technology and has worked with Rolls-Royce throughout our life as a higher education institution. The University also has links with all the major engineering businesses in the region and is investing heavily at present in its capabilities.

“Together with our ongoing partnership in Derby’s new ‘Innovation Campus’, at the heart of the Global Technology Cluster (which recently received backing from the Regional Growth Fund), this newly announced University Technical College will be an important component in securing the city’s future as a centre for advanced manufacturing.”

Derby College Principal Mandie Stravino added: “The focus of the UTC would be on preparing young people to enter the engineering and technology sector; an area which is already very successful at the College, post-16.

“The new UTC will build on this experience and the expertise of partner organisations, to enable us to provide a broad range of provision based around core curriculum subjects and specialist technical skills development.

“Employer partners will provide real context for project work, invention and enterprise, and engage with teachers in designing learning activities and assessing pupil performance. We believe that this project will create remarkable life chances for young people in the Derbyshire area, giving them the life and work skills they will need to progress into successful careers and further studies.”

The University Technical College will be located alongside Derby College. Work to prepare the site ahead of its September 2014 opening will begin in the near future.

Graham Schuhmacher, Head of Development Services for Rolls-Royce, said: “Like many hi- tech companies Rolls-Royce relies on a strong pipeline of people with science and engineering qualifications. We work with partners and education establishments around the world in order to promote STEM subjects and enthuse young people about the exciting careers they can have.

“We are pleased that the ‘Derby Manufacturing UTC’ has been approved by the Government. It will give more people the opportunity to develop the foundations required to succeed in science and engineering, and will be of benefit to the wider supply chain across the region.”

Derby’s UTC is one of 13 new colleges announced by the Government on March 28.

Schools Minister Lord Nash said of the announcement: “I am delighted with the very strong field of UTC proposals we are progressing to the next stage. The growing number of top employers and universities involved in UTCs underlines the importance of making rigorous technical education an option for young people.

“It is vitally important that young people have the skills and experience wanted by employers, both for their own prosperity and to help us compete in the global race.”

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