UTC Plymouth - Inspiring the next generation
Last Friday I visited Plymouth UTC (University Technical College).
With a strap line of ‘Inspiring the next generation’, it certainly does that, and indeed inspired a group of older generations as we were shown around by two impressive young women studying there.
Although it is not located in my constituency, it serves the whole of Plymouth and the wider travel to work area of South Devon and South East Cornwall. It’s a fantastic addition to the school and further education portfolio in the area, providing hands on skills, experience and qualifications for students looking to pursue a technical apprenticeship, university or skilled employment.
Working in partnership with the Royal Navy and key employers represented by the Plymouth Manufacturing Group, the UTC also works closely with Plymouth University. With this unique group involved in the education of students at the college, the young people have access to support, training, further study or jobs as a result. The statistics are impressive with 100% of students moving into further training, university or employment when they leave.
It is widely recognised that there is an engineering skills gap in the UK. Plymouth is ideally placed to proactively play a part in tackling this due to key manufacturers located in the City, as well as the excellent Universities and Armed Services. The city is rapidly becoming a centre of excellence for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and is seeking to inspire more young people, particularly girls and women, to pursue careers in these subjects. Being able to train specifically for careers between the ages of 14-19 in this way goes a long way to tackling the skills shortage and ensuring our young people are trained and ready to join the workforce.
I am particularly impressed with how the UTC offers an alternative learning environment which is more akin to the workplace than school, and as a result engages with young people who might otherwise have disengaged with their education.
The challenge we face is to ensure our young people get to hear about the excellent education (and ultimately, employment) offer available at the UTC and other alternative further education providers like City College Plymouth.