What is a UTC?
A UTC is an industry-orientated school designed for ambitious young people, aged 14-19, who have aspirations to become leading future innovators. UTC Warrington is funded by the government, is free to attend and is sponsored by a number of successful companies along with Manchester Metropolitan University.
UTC Warrington will offer technically oriented courses of study (around 60% academic / 40% practical), combining National Curriculum requirements such as GCSEs and A Levels with technical and vocational elements. Additionally ICT and business skills will play a key part throughout. A UTC institution offers clear routes into higher education or further learning in work. The study day is longer than in a typical school to reflect a working day within the world of work.
The University Technical College concept is proving to be a very viable option, with a UTC recently being rated as “Outstanding” by Ofsted.
Why does Warrington need a UTC?
An Engineering & Energy Hub
British manufacturing industry is thriving. There is a recognition that tackling engineering and manufacturing skills gaps is essential to the continued growth and international competiveness of British industry. The Warrington area is home to a number of engineering and energy businesses, which need appropriately skilled young people.
The Cheshire and Warrington (C&W) LEP ‘sub-regional sectoral’ analysis has identified advanced engineering as the priority sector for the economy based on the engineering businesses in the area and the high potential of engineering. Local Location Quotients indicate that advanced engineering and its subsectors play a more significant role in the local economy than anywhere else in the country.
Warrington has over four times the proportion of jobs in engineering compared to the average for the rest of England, and twice the national average of employees working in electricity, gas and steam. In addition to this, the town also plays host to a number of large businesses associated with the nuclear industry.
The strength of these core infrastructure activities in Warrington mean that there is a real need for a UTC in order to sustain and encourage growth.
Meeting the Economic Demands of Industry
All industry partners have identified the significant recruitment challenges alongside skills gaps in new entrants to employment, combined with an ageing population. Without a strategy to address these issues, industry in Warrington and the surrounding area will not be able to sustain continued growth.
By 2020, the UK economy will require 830,000 professional scientists, engineers and technologists, averaging at 100,000 new professionals each year. However, 44% of employers in these sectors have reported that the IT, engineering and technical staff they do employ do not have the level of skill that is required, with 30% of employers feeling that school leavers are lacking in practical work experience. In addition to this, 25% of employers stated that school leavers are without the technical experience necessary to their roles.
These figures translate into real-world employment prospects, with 54% of engineering graduates believing that gaining industrial experience during their academic courses increased their chances of getting a job – demonstrating a real need for a UTC and the unique education it offers.
UTC Warrington is a distinctive offer for the area as it blends vocational and academic routes with real experience of work, project-working opportunities delivered by employer partners, and academic rigour provided by Manchester Metropolitan University.