Engineering a future for Warrington’s young people

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.

Survey shows lack of workplace skills in young people

The new University Technical College Warrington (UTCW) is backing the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) recommendation that stronger links must be formed between educators and business, better to prepare young people for work.

The BCC’s Workforce Survey* published this week shows that 88% of businesses overwhelmingly feel that many young people are not adequately prepared for the workplace, with more than 76% believing a lack of work experience is the reason.

Project supporter, Lynda Moore comments:  “This report clearly shows that employers are crying out for young people who are ‘work-ready’.

“Working with employers in the region, we will be preparing our young people to be successful employees of the future. Our students will be working closely with our employer partners from day one, to ensure they become skilled, qualified and experienced.

“They will follow a curriculum designed and delivered in conjunction with employers to ensure the students experience realistic challenges and produce innovative solutions.  In addition to work experience placements, they will work on real-life projects, created and assessed by employers, in workshops that will be based on real working environments with industry standard equipment. “

John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “This isn’t about pointing the finger at young people – it is a joint responsibility between businesses, the education system and Government to provide the right skills and support that young people need to make it in the world of work. It is vital that we proactively build a pipeline of young talent who will go on to become the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs, as failure to do so could damage the UK’s future growth prospects and risk a lost generation of young people.”

University Technical College Warrington (UTCW) Garners Unprecedented Support

With a year to go until the opening of the new £10m University Technical College Warrington (UTCW), the engineering and energy specialist College, has received overwhelming support amongst the community.

The findings from the UTCW’s recent Public Consultation Report, shows that of the 530 respondents, 98% of parents/adults and 94% of employers believe that it is important for the young people of Warrington that UTCW offers an alternative education for 14-19 year olds, with a focus on energy and engineering.

UTC Warrington is a Government funded college, sponsored by the University of Chester and supported by Warrington Borough Council, that offers 14-19 year olds the opportunity to integrate technical, practical and academic learning in a way that just isn’t possible in a traditional school environment.  UTCW has secured the backing of 35 local employers, ranging from FTSE100 listed organisations to SME consultancies.  These include Sellafield Ltd, the Boulting Group and AMEC.Employers are heavily involved in the development of the curriculum, which ensures that students can develop the abilities and employability skills that local employers require.

One parent interviewed commented: “As a parent of a Year 6 pupil, I consider it to be important to develop skills which are in need locally. It will also help young people reach their aspirations and provide choice.”

The report also highlights what the community perceive as the core strengths of the UTCW which includes the links with local employers, technical skills and training, employability skills, career related projects and opportunities to progress to university, an apprenticeship or employment.

One employer commented: “The current education system has left us with a skills gap that threatens our economy. UTCs are addressing this shortage and giving young people the chance to be employable.”

The significant majority of people interviewed also agreed that the specialism on energy and engineering made complete sense for the region, with one respondent commenting: “The UTC will help with the skills shortage for engineering which is vital for Warrington to keep business in the region.”

Commenting on the Consultation Report, UTCW Principal Catherine Collier, said: “We are delighted by the outcomes of the Consultation Report which demonstrates the support we have from all sections of the community. It is clear that the UTCW is very much in demand and will have a significant impact on the futures of young people, employers and therefore the overall economic prosperity of Warrington. We have a very clear mandate in going forward.”

You can download the full version or a summary below:

UTC Warrington Consultation Survey Full PDF
UTC Warrington Consultation Survey Summary PDF

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