College will engineer future growth of our economy
DESIGNS for the region's first University Technical College have been unveiled.
Work on the pioneering new Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy – which will train the engineers of the future – is expected to begin on the site of the former Filton High School, Stoke Gifford, in September.
The academy, which will work to a curriculum developed in partnership with Airbus, Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace, is set to welcome its first students in September 2013.
Recruitment for students aged between 14 and 19 years old hoping to forge a career in engineering will get under way in September.
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The city was chosen by the Government as one of 13 sites in England to develop a UTC in October last year following a bid from City of Bristol College, backed by the University of the West of England.
At launch event held at UWE's Frenchay Campus, employers behind the project met up to discuss how the academy could be run.
It will eventually educate 450 students, with the intake initially being made up of 220 students from age 14 and up to 120 from 16 to 19. It will have 33 staff, with recruitment already under way for a principal.
John Roberts, chief engineer at Airbus UK, said the next generation of engineers recruited from the academy could become "the backbone" of the business in the future.
He said the establishment of the UTEs could also stop British engineering companies moving overseas.
Mr Roberts said: "The biggest test for long-term growth (in the UK engineering industry) is a shortage of people in the UK.
"If we are going to invest in the UK, we have to show we can provide people and skills going forward.
"Otherwise, these companies will move overseas. If you haven't got access to the right skills, all the money in the world can't keep you here."
Mr Roberts said Airbus would work with the academy to outline which skills were required by its workers. He said students would be mentored by Airbus employees and would visit the nearby Airbus factory, which he said was likely to take on more and more new recruits as the aviation industry expanded.
The academy, the first of its kind in the south west, aims to build on the region's national reputation as a hub for advanced engineering, aerospace and environmental technologies.
Students will benefit from a work-related learning environment and real work experience. Employers will play an active role in shaping what is taught, to help students develop skills and qualifications relevant to the workplace.
Ben Allen, spokesman for City of Bristol College, said he was hoping pupils would start considering a move to the new academy from primary school age.
He said the academy, which would offer diplomas and A-levels and see students studying for full working days, would be "the definition of employer-led". Mr Allen said: "These companies have told us what the curriculum should be.
"It's a completely new concept in getting an employer-led curriculum and it's not edging back to anything that's been done before."
Students will be taken from Bristol and the surrounding area, stretching to Dursley in the north, Clevedon in the west and Bath to the east.
Mr Allen said: "It's an option and choice but it won't be for everybody. We need people who have a burning passion to be an engineer."
Judy Stradling, vice-principal of the college, has been heavily involved in the planning for the academy.
She said: "The key sponsors are desperate for highly skilled people. They (UTCs) are not like the old technical colleges – they are more academic. The students will need good science and maths skills as well as practical skills."