University Technical Colleges (UTCs) across the country celebrated Think UTC day on 17 March, encouraging young people to pursue roles in science, technology, engineering and maths. 31 UTCs took part by hosting events or promoting their UTC on social media.
Highlights from the day included a visit by HRH The Duke of York to UTC@MediaCityUK in Salford. The students demonstrated their professional and technical abilities in Film/TV production and game design. BBC Radio 4 Any Questions? broadcast live from Aston University Engineering Academy. 200 people from the local community joined the audience and were given a tour of the campus by its students. BBC Radio Humberside brought their bus to the Humber UTC campus where they broadcast their afternoon show.
In an interview for Think UTC, Ash Merchant, Director of Education at Fujitsu spoke about the benefits of starting a technical education at 14:
UTCs are striking the balance between technical and academic learning. From 14, students are developing their confidence, they’re learning how to present themselves and communicate with employers so that they are not fazed by interactions with senior level employees. They are encouraged to be inquisitive and the focus isn’t just on exams. UTCs have found the balance which means that young people are broadening their horizons not closing them down.
Former Education Secreatary, Estelle Morris, spoke positively about UTCs and the opportunities available to students working on employer based projects:
UTCs have got this right because they have made it a priority but it is what work experience should be like in all schools. It’s a great idea to work on real and relevant projects and I like the idea of ongoing contact. Schools often have a one off speaker, or students complete work experience but it’s not necessarily relevant to what they want to do and it’s not linked in to the rest of their education. UTCs are doing this excellently.
Cisco apprentice, Husna Mahmood, talked about her time at UTC Reading and provided valuable advice to young girls interested in STEM roles:
Ignore the stereotypes. If we step forward and bring about the change then we can get rid of the stereotype that IT and engineering are male jobs. One of the main things that drove me to go to the UTC was to show that we as women can do this too, it’s not just for men – we need to show them who’s boss!
Apprentice of the year and former student at The JCB Academy, Holly Broadhurst, offered this advice to young people considering joining a UTC:
Absolutely go for it. If it’s the kind of learning that suits you and you’re interested in technology or engineering then you’ve got nothing to lose. I can say that having gone through it and come out the other side, even if I didn’t want to pursue a career in engineering I wouldn’t have been at a disadvantage. All the skills you’re learning are transferable and so you’re not closing down any opportunities.