New University Technical College for Warrington gets go ahead

Posted on 23rd January 2014

Teenagers in and around Warrington are to be given the opportunity of a lifetime, as a new University Technical College (UTC) in the town has today (Thursday, January 23, 2014) been given approval by the Department for Education to open in September 2015.

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.

The Warrington UTC will offer specialisms in engineering and energy and be open to students from across the region spanning Liverpool to Manchester – not just the Warrington area.

The UTC is sponsored by the University of Chester with support from Warrington Borough Council and local employers including Sellafield Ltd, Tenet, Nuvia and AMEC.

As international, national, regional and local employers, these organisations 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.

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

The UTC will be a key component in the regeneration and renaissance of Warrington’s town centre. The facility will be situated at the heart of Warrington’s ambitious Stadium Quarter regeneration project; a £190 million mixed use development comprising educational, office, leisure and residential uses.

The Stadium Quarter is a 90 acre site situated in the heart of Warrington’s town centre which sits between the Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium and the bus interchange immediately opposite Warrington Central railway station.

Professor Peter Harrop, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University’s Warrington Campus said: “The University of Chester has had a presence in Warrington for over 10 years. The UTC builds on that presence and offers an excellent fit with the findings of the Warrington Skills Commision as well as our new Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton. This is joined-up educational planning, clearly linked to the Warrington economic strategy.”

Councillor Terry O’Neill, Leader of Warrington Borough Council said: “This is a fabulous coup for the town. Warrington excels in the nuclear and engineering sectors. The UTC will train, equip and prepare young people for careers in these sectors, address the skills gap and so grow and protect the future of these sectors in the town.

“The announcement also provides the trigger that kick starts development on our Stadium Quarter site and the ongoing renaissance of our town centre.

“On a regional and national scale it will attract greater investment to the borough and North West as a whole as employers will want to be based where the much-needed skill set is available.”

Paul Adams, Sellafield Ltd's Head of Risley Office and Engineering Improvements, said: "Sellafield Ltd is very excited about the news regarding the development of the Warrington UTC. We see the development of specialist education facilities such as UTCs as key routes for increasing the focus of local education systems towards engineering employers, helping to create career paths aimed at meeting the resource requirements of the nuclear and other engineering industries.

"We are proud to be members of the Warrington UTC Trust, and look forward to being active supporters alongside other organisations to ensure its success. Alongside the UTC being developed in West Cumbria, close to the Sellafield site, and the industry's other investments in skills and education infrastructure young people in the North West will be able take advantage of the fantastic opportunities that employment in the engineering sector can provide."

Aidan McManus, Operations Director, Tenet Consultants, said: “There is a recognised demand within the Warrington SME engineering community for suitably qualified school and college leavers. Tenet believes that the Warrington UTC will play a vital role in raising the awareness of its students to the potential opportunities available within the local job market. Exposure to the varied professions within the engineering industry and the many associated benefits will generate enthusiasm among the student population for developing a successful career in engineering.

“This collaboration between education and industry will help develop the engineering and vocational skills of students at Warrington UTC, thereby increasing their employability. As a potential future employer of these Warrington UTC graduates, Tenet believes that having a STEM subject focused College in the local area will help to maintain the company's ambition for sustainable and organic growth.”

Steve Wright, Project Director, Nuvia Limited, said: “The University Technical College will play an important role in meeting the skills required to capitalise on the growth prospects in the nuclear industry over the next few years and longer term. Having direct access to a pool of talented young people who have a passion and drive for ‘engineering’, who are focused on creating value, who are motivated and have the capacity and capability to drive innovation and productivity is crucial to the future success of our company and the industry. We see the University Technical College as a great opportunity to ensure that young people in Warrington and the region develop the skills and knowledge that local business needs.”

Lord Baker, Chairman of Baker Dearing Trust, said: “Today’s announcement shows continued support and commitment from the Government to increase the size and impact of the UTC movement. There will now be 50 UTCs. I am delighted that UTCs enjoy all-party support and that the Coalition continues to back them.”