Business and community leaders from across Sussex backed a call from former Minister of Education Lord Kenneth Baker for educators to prioritise developing students’ technical skills, as well as their academic abilities, in a speech at UTC@harbourside, the University Technical College in Newhaven in February.
Lord Baker raised the impact of Brexit on the region’s economy in his talk to representatives from Newhaven and Eastbourne Chambers of Commerce, and local and national employers who had gathered to pledge their practical support to the UTC. UTC@harbourside offers GCSE and sixth-form courses for 14 to 18 year olds with a real interest in science, technology, engineering, maths and computing. Its university sponsor is the University of Brighton, and it is also backed by Lewes District Council, Aldridge Education and local businesses.
“Our dependency on skilled technicians from overseas is a big issue for our economy in the light of Brexit” Lord Baker said. “Our economy needs scientific and technical skills, not just in engineering but in sectors such as hospitality. As a young person you will have to have technical skills to get on in future.”
Co-founder of the Baker Dearing Trust, which has helped establish 49 University Technical Colleges across the country including UTC@harbourside, Lord Baker highlighted the advantages of companies having a strong presence in education, influencing the curriculum and providing real life projects for students to test their learning on. He said: “A student leaving a UTC is highly employable. They learn to work in teams. They problem-solve. They gain experience of the work-place and of applying their academic learning to solve real life problems.”
“At a time when youth unemployment in the UK is12% UTCs perform better than any other type of school in terms of the percentage of leavers in work, higher education/university or training. Better even than grammar schools. They have the qualifications and skills employers want.”
Representatives from organisations ranging from Rampion Wind Farm and the NHS to local engineering, technology and construction employers TerraPura Fairlight Coach Works and KSD attended the event to commit to giving support to help the UTC’s students build their practical experience and CV through the UTC’s Employers Consortium. They were joined by Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, representatives from Newhaven Council and Brighton University, and from Youthforce and Tomorrow’s Engineers, to hear UTC students Callum Beer and Tristan Drake talk about their career goals in engineering and the leadership skills they have developed at the college. Callum said: “The opportunities I’ve had to develop my leadership skills at the UTC are second to none.”
UTC principal Adanma Umunna said: “We are doing things differently here. Educators and CEOs coming together for the benefit of young people. Raising the next generation of scientists and engineers in Sussex begins here!”
Applications are now open for students from across Sussex interested in joining the UTC in years 10 and 12 in September 2018. More information can be found at www.utc-harbourside.org. Local businesses interested in finding out more about the Employers Consortium should contact Partnership Director Itziar Leighton at the UTC.
Pictured: Christina Ewbanks, Eastbourne Chamber, and Adanma Umunna