Students at UTC Leeds had an opportunity to showcase their talent to prospective employers from the engineering and manufacturing sector at the recent Leeds Manufacturing Festival.
The festival, launched at the UTC on 10th October and run by the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance was sponsored by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership together with RSM, Allied Irish Bank, EEF (the Engineering Employers Federation) and The Works Recruitment company. It was created with the aim of connecting the young people of Leeds to local manufacturers.
Graham Cooper from AGFA, a governor at the UTC and a member of the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance, welcomed everybody to the launch event and thanked the sponsors, inviting them explain why they got involved in the festival.
Henry Rigg, Business Support Manager at the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: ‘Manufacturing is absolutely critical to the economy of Leeds and is a hugely important sector. Despite a recent rise of 5.8% in manufacturing employment in the last five years, our 2017 employment skills survey showed that more than 25% of vacancies in the manufacturing sector are difficult to fill due to a lack of skilled candidates’.
Craig Burton from recruitment company, The Works, said: ‘It is really important that we are speaking to young people, encouraging them that manufacturing and engineering are worthwhile options for them’.
During the event students from UTC Leeds, which specialises in engineering, Charlie, Steven and Melissa, were given the opportunity to talk about their experiences at the college. They talked about how they were able to increase their employer links through visiting businesses, which exposed them to different types of engineering. They also spoke about how they were able to listen to, and gain advice from, guest speakers in the industry. In addition, they had had the chance to participate in several innovation weeks at the UTC, such as ‘Space Week’ and ‘Robots Week’. The students went on to share their fantastic ambitions for the future which include going to university to study Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and doing a degree apprenticeship in either Architectural or Civil Engineering.
Carly Boden, who is responsible for employer engagement at UTC Leeds, applauded the students and continued to explain the UTC movement for guests and employers at the event. She said: ‘UTC stands for University Technical College. We are one of fifty UTCs across the country and we are, to put it simply, a school with a specialism. All UTCs are set up with the specialism relevant to their area and for UTC Leeds this is manufacturing and engineering. We work with local employers to engage with the students and bring the curriculum to life. We have found that working with employers really increases the students’ level of motivation. We believe it is our job to make sure that every student knows what their opportunities are.’
Guest speaker Caroline Gumble, Chief Operating Officer from EEF, began her speech by highlighting how truly impressed she was with the UTC students who spoke earlier, stating: ‘Wow you are fantastic!’
Caroline continued, explaining who EEF are and why they have two apprentice training centres in the UK: ‘We are committed to training the next generation of creators, makers and innovators, which is why we are proud to support the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and Festival. There is a skills shortage in this area, with 72% of manufacturers concerned about finding employees with the skills needed for their business.’
Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, reminisced on her involvement with UTC Leeds at its inception saying: ‘It is absolutely phenomenal to see the college full of young students really moving forward with such purpose. At Leeds City Council we recognise just how important manufacturing is to Leeds. I think your contribution as employers is phenomenal to the wealth of the city, but also the opportunity you give to the community and the young people of Leeds.’
For more information about UTC Leeds, please browse our website and book a place at the next opening evening on January 10th from 6pm to 8pm: https://www.utcleeds.co.uk/events/open-evening-jan10/