UTC Leeds has welcomed a new report, published today, that calls for more employer involvement in education and technical training.
Educating the North: Driving Ambition Across the Powerhouse makes several recommendations including calling for Northern employers to commit to providing an inspirational experience of the world of work for more than 900,000 young people every year The Northern Powerhouse Partnership report also calls for an education system capable of delivering a skilled workforce in the North for the North, and states that the North could become a world-leading centre for degree apprenticeships, delivering a genuine mix of vocational and academic education.
Here, Chris O’Reilly, Vice Principal of UTC Leeds, and Graham Cooper, Site Manager, Agfa Graphics Leeds, an employer partner, give their views on the report.
Chris O’Reilly, Vice Principal of UTC Leeds, said: “We welcome the report recommendations calling for Northern employers to commit to providing an inspirational experience of the world of work to young people every year. UTC Leeds is already playing its part in addressing these challenges on a daily basis.
“Working with employers underpins our entire approach to education. More than 70 support us. University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are a new type of technical school that offer technical specialisms, in addition to GCSEs and A Levels, which reflect the skills needs of regional employers, supporting economic growth and employment. Our students have the opportunity to study academic and technical subjects at the same time. Employers have helped to design our building and they support our curriculum. Students learn from industry experts in specialist high tech industry facilities.
“UTC Leeds specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing because there is an urgent need from employers within that sector for high level scientific and technical skills. Our students learn how to apply academic theory to practice, and to problem solve. They develop the right attitude towards work because they complete employer set projects as part of their studies with us. Our students really enjoy and benefit from the hands-on scientific and technical learning, which prepares them for great career and university prospects. We also receive great support from our sponsor the University of Leeds. Employers support us because they are acutely aware they need to back the training of the next generation of talent now for the future success and prosperity of the region, contributing to job creation in Yorkshire and beyond.”
Graham Cooper, Site Manager, Agfa Graphics Leeds, said: “Agfa Graphics, like many manufacturing companies in and around Leeds, has an ageing workforce and is looking to recruit young people as skilled staff retire and leave the business. Agfa struggles to attract young people onto its apprentice programmes and has found previously that some have been unprepared by their schools for the world of work. UTC Leeds tackles these challenges head on, which is why Agfa has been actively involved from the outset including being a member of the governing body.”
Employers have helped to design the curriculum including setting industry projects and also provide work experience and placements. They include Agfa Graphics Leeds, which is part of the world leading Agfa-Gevaert Group that develops, produces and distributes analogue and digital imaging systems and information technology solutions for the printing industry and healthcare sector, as well as for specific industrial applications. The company provides UTC students with curriculum projects, work experience placements, factory visits, industry talks, job interview practice sessions and information on the qualities and skills that employers want in new recruits. Visit http://www.agfagraphics.com.