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New University Technical College sponsored by rail companies

The north east’s first University Technical College (UTC) has been given the green light by the government, offering hundreds of young people a life-changing future in engineering and advanced manufacturing.

Based at Newton Aycliffe Business Park, the £10m South Durham UTC is sponsored by the University of Sunderland, Hitachi Rail Europe and Gestamp Tallent Automotive.

Due to open in 2016, the UTC will have a first intake of up to 150 14 year olds, and when in full operation the UTC will be able to accommodate between 550 and 600 pupils.

Through the UTC, Hitachi Rail Europe will provide students with a host of learning experiences in the workplace. As an ambassador of the wider Newton Aycliffe Business Park, the train manufacturer will be involved in industry delivery of work experience placements, industrial site visits, equipment contribution, lecturing support, company mentoring, and guaranteed interview experience, amongst other things.

Keith Jordan, managing director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “The announcement is a significant development for Hitachi Rail Europe and for wider manufacturing in the North East.

“It reflects the government’s objectives to support skills development in the region and across the engineering sector, tackling the problems that exist around skills shortages and unfilled vacancies.”

UTCs are modelled on technical schools, providing a mix of academic and technical education. South Durham UTC proposals confirm that it will devote 60% of its curriculum to academic study and 40% to technical study for 14-16-year-olds, while for 16-19-year-olds, the split will be 40% academic study and 60% technical study.

After narrowly missing out on the Department for Education’s previous round of approvals for six new UK UTCs earlier this year, the lead sponsors resubmitted their bid in May following positive feedback.

Welcoming the news, Professor Gary Holmes, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted that the bid has been successful, it’s fantastic news for all those involved and testament to the support we’ve had from employers and from the local community.

“The vision of the South Durham UTC is to create a college which makes a significant contribution to the economic development of the region.

Chancellor George Osborne added that the new college will provide the next generation of British workers with the skills they need to secure the high-tech jobs of the future.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Colin Brown   07/08/2014 at 08:49

This is fantastic news, and well overdue. I did a traditional apprenticeship and went to York Tech College through British Rail Engineering, was probably the best training in the country at the time in the rail industry. All of that was lost in the nineties. Colin Brown, MD Merlin Design Services Ltd Rail Vehicle Designer

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