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Engineering a future for Warrington’s young people

By 18th July 2015 May 2nd, 2017 No Comments

UTC Warrington LogoWarrington’s brand new, state-of-the-art University Technical College Warrington (UTCW) held its inaugural business breakfast event last week to showcase the facilities that will be available to students and businesses alike when construction is completed in the summer of 2016.

On Friday 17th July 60 representatives from over 40 local businesses came together to find how the new £10 million University Technical College Warrington is set to change the face of the engineering and energy sectors in Warrington and beyond.

The event, hosted at The Centre on Birchwood Business Park, was held both for those businesses already involved in the project and for those interested in finding out more about how University Technical College Warrington will help address the skills gap within engineering within the Warrington area.

Hosted by a selection of key project stakeholders and, opened by Aidan McManus, Chair of the UTCW Project Board and Operations Director at Tenet Consultants, the event provided attendees with an overview of the project to date; followed by a presentation by newly appointed Principal & Chief Executive, Lee Barber on the curriculum and his vision for this landmark college. Stephanie Hutchinson, Marketing & Employer Engagement Manager also delivered an overview of marketing plans for the college. Presentations were followed by a question and answers session with Aidan and Lee, alongside Mike Houghton, Chair of UTCW Governing Body and Technical & Project Management Director at Amec Foster Wheeler; and John McCann, Principal Lecturer at the School of Engineering representing university sponsor Manchester Metropolitan University.

Construction of the new £10 million, 620-place UTCW is due to start next week following the approval in March from parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Nash. Ideally located in the heart of Warrington within the Stadium Quarter, UTCW will have excellent access to rail and bus networks.

UTCW is sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University and local employers. With support from Warrington Borough Council, UTCW will specialise in energy and engineering and will offer an outstanding opportunity for the young people of Warrington and the wider region to work with major energy and engineering employers based in the town, including Sellafield Ltd, AMEC Foster Wheeler, Tenet Consultants, Nuvia, Atkins, National Nuclear Laboratories and Flamefast.

Aidan McManus addresses attendees

Aidan McManus addresses attendees

UTCW will integrate technical, practical and academic learning and create an environment where students can thrive and develop the abilities that industry needs. As international, national, regional and local employers, the industrial sponsors will play a major role, helping to shape the curriculum and relate it to future jobs that match the needs of the local economy. In turn, students will acquire the skills and knowledge that are in demand from employers along with having access to the latest equipment and technology used in industry.

Attendees were impressed to see how much the project has moved forward in the last month and were excited by future plans that will be initiated over the next few months. Stephen Fitzsimmons, Membership & External Affairs Manager at EEF The Manufacturers Organisation said “It is great to see everything back on track”. Paula Quinn, Learning & Development Manager at Nuvia said “I found the presentations very interesting and I look forward to working with the UTC as the project develops.”

Speaking at the event, Lee Barber, Principal & Chief Executive said: “It was great to see such a vast amount of support for the college from so many key, local engineering and energy employers. There is a clearly a huge appetite in Warrington a specialist engineering institution. I look forward to the next 14 months as we work together to build this much needed institution both physically and in terms of students, employers and a curriculum which fits the needs of both employers and young people.”

Marketing & Employer Engagement Manager, Steph Hutchinson commented: “The business breakfast was a great way to mark the end of my first week of employment at UTC Warrington. I was blown away by the sheer number of high profile attendees. There is a lot to do over the next few months as we recruit students and further employee partners, but with support from the likes of Sellafield, Amec Foster Wheeler, Flamefast and Tenet Consultants I know we are going to take Warrington by storm!”

UTCs are a new concept in education, offering a safe, high quality, technically-orientated curriculum for 14-19 year olds in an environment where young people are encouraged to follow their interests and to develop them into engineering-related skills and qualifications.  At least 40% of the time students spend at UTCW will be dedicated to the technical specialisms of energy and engineering including design and building, working in teams and problem solving.

UTCW will offer its students clear progression routes into higher education, apprenticeships or full time employment. By working closely with local employers UTCW will offer students, as part of their studies, regular opportunities to connect with local businesses on valuable work experience projects.