gradient overlay

Stakeholder day demonstrates how UTCs prepare young people for world of work

More than 50 employers, local authorities, higher technical education providers, and University Technical Colleges took part in a knowledge exchange and networking day hosted by UTC Warrington and the Baker Dearing Educational Trust last week.

The stakeholder day followed similar, successful events at UTC Leeds and The Leigh UTC, all aimed at bringing together organisations that already work with UTCs and Baker Dearing with those that might be new to the programme.

The UTC Warrington event was opened by Principal Chris Hatherall, who explained the UTC’s origins and mission: “We do offer GCSEs and a variety of interesting technical qualifications. But the added value is definitely the additional support we get with our employer partners.

“I am incredibly proud of the relationships we have with all of our employers because they definitely make the difference to these young people.”

UTC Warrington Principal Chris Hatherall addressing the audience.

Baker Dearing Educational Trust Chief Executive Simon Connell followed Hatherall, giving a brief history of the UTC programme and a report on how well UTCs are performing on metrics such as student destinations, Ofsted scores, and learner feedback – all of which demonstrated consistent improvement in the UTC network.

UTC “prepares young people for the world of work,” says MP

Later in the day, the visitors were addressed by Warrington South MP Andy Carter, who was introduced by UTC Warrington’s Chair of Trustees Mike Houghton, engineering group director for the school’s employer partner Jacobs.

Houghton said he had worked to set up apprenticeship schemes, but then found: “There wasn’t the pipeline of work-ready, work-interested students.

“That’s why UTC Warrington was established, because we wanted to generate that pipeline and it is now extremely successful, robust, and filled with keen, motivated, work-ready students and it’s a real success.”

Houghton also praised the support provided to UTC Warrington by Baker Dearing and politicians such as Andy Carter, saying that without them, “we wouldn’t be here today,” as the “road for a UTC single-academy trust is a rocky one”.

Andy Carter MP addressing the audience

Carter then addressed the audience, recounting that before he became MP, he was disappointed with how many local schools were not preparing young people for careers in Warrington’s major industries, such as nuclear.

“Then I came to UTC Warrington and the principal talked to me about the businesses in this area. He talked to me about all his connections, he talked to me about Sellafield.

“I thought, ‘wow, I’ve actually found somewhere that gets what this local economy is about and is ready to prepare young people for the world of work in Warrington’.”

He continued: “UTC Warrington is providing young people with the educational journey with a real destination at the end and that’s what makes this place different.

“It’s about getting great examination grades, it’s about being rigorous with academia, but it’s also about making progress in life skills, it’s about making sure that people understand what work is about.

“From very early on, the UTC gets people involved in work experience and prepares people for apprenticeships, for technical education, for jobs.”

Attendees benefit from sessions on technical qualifications

The day also included two separate series of seminars covering a broad scope of topics, including T Levels after UTC Warrington became the first school in England to offer the technical qualifications solely at post-16.

There was an introduction to degree apprenticeships from Manchester Metropolitan University and a briefing from Skill Builder Partnership which is working to build a common framework to enable people to develop vital employability skills.

The priorities were outlined for Cheshire and Warrington’s Local Skills Improvement Plan, which seeks to align the area’s education provision with local industry need, which fits well with the employer-led technical provision delivered by UTCs.

Evelyn Haywood, Director of Education, Skills Builder Partnership, addressing the visitors.

A session on Higher Technical Qualifications – the new name for Level 4 and 5 courses – was delivered by Cheshire and Warrington’s Institute of Technology, one of a nationwide network of education settings delivering advanced and higher technical education.

Tony Ryan, Chief Executive of the Design and Technology Association, also spoke about the declining provision of the subject in schools and the tools that the association was using to widen access to design and technology and improve the quality of provision.

Following these sessions, the two visitor groups heard talks from one of UTC Warrington’s major employer partners, Sellafield, and UTC alumni Callum and Kieran, who have progressed onto careers with door manufacturer Teckentrup UK.

Data centre built with support from students unveiled

Following a networking lunch, the visitors were invited to the opening of UTC Warrington’s new data centre, with equipment supplied by data centre company Sudlows. The reinforced door to the data centre was designed by Kieran, the UTC alumnus who has progressed to Teckentrup.

Hatherall opening UTC Warrington’s new data centre.

Chris Hatherall told the audience at the opening that UTC Warrington decided to deliver the digital support services T Level due to the strong relationship with Sudlows. The data centre was built and constructed with the support of T Level and computing students who have been trained by professional data centre training provider C-Net.

Following the opening, visitors were invited on a tour of the UTC before departing.