University Technology College Diary: ELUTec, East London

Bill Williams, CEO of the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence – the location for a new University Technical College – puts out a plea to employers.

Calling all CEO’s and MD’s: your industry needs you!

In May of 2012 the University Technical College in East

Bill Williams, CEO of the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence

London (ELUTec) was approved by the Department for Education.Its partners, University College London, CEME and Prospects Learning Foundation immediately got to work on planning the detail for a successful opening in September 2014.

ELUTec will be based at the impressive CEME business and skills campus in East London and will specialise in manufacturing, engineering and product design alongside the national curriculum.

There are two unique aspects to a University Technical Colleges. One being the sponsorship by a University (UCL is one of the top 5 engineering Universities in the world).

The second defining feature is the opportunity for employers to develop a deep involvement with the UTC in the development and delivery of the curriculum. For many years, if not decades, employers have frequently criticised the lack of opportunity to bring their influence to bear in shaping school curricula and, as importantly, the way in which teaching is delivered.

Engagement in development gives employers the chance to ensure that the skills students learn while at school equip them to become economically productive individuals. To contribute to real businesses and their needs.

Participating in the delivery is much more about influencing attitudes and behaviours, sometimes without even realising it! Employers frequently cite poor attitude to work and/or the workplace as a key challenge when recruiting and investing in young talent – a UTC deals with this in a new and refreshing way.

If ever there were an education initiative that employers must support from the top down, the University Technical Colleges are it.

In establishing this network of specialist schools, commiting to invest in 30 UTC’s already, it could be argued that government has done its bit. Now is the time for employers to make the most of that promised investment. The rewards available to those employers willing to invest in their UTC’s can be remarkable.

Any employer can consider being a core employer partner for a UTC – it’s probable that the employer’s activity will bear direct relevance to the specialism of the UTC itself. An employer partner would be expected to help shape the design and participate in the delivery of a course module. The design of the module and the outcomes of the delivery remain the sole responsibility of the UTC and its teaching staff.

In very rough numbers a core employer partner, sponsoring one teaching module, could expect to invest between 12 and 20 engineering man days per annum in supporting a UTC.

A common benefit cited by employers which comes from working with UTCs and their young students in this way is that their own employees find it tremendously uplifting. They thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go and share their knowledge in a learning environment. Secondly it allows employers to make young people aware of their products and services and their plans for the future. It’s a wonderful way to make young people aware of your organisation.

ELUTec has made a cracking start and our employee sponsors include Ford, Network Rail and, most recently, we have confirmed that BP will be joining as core employer partner. We have further commitments from Selex Galileo and The National Grid.

However, in my experience successful sponsorship of a University Technical College by an employer must have the full support, interest and backing of the chief executive or managing director of the respective organisations. Without this the efforts of others will always tend to become diluted which is a great, great shame.

So, with 20 months to go before we open in September 2014 we are approaching six employee partners confirmed and we’re looking for another 6 to 10 who are equally passionate about what this revolutionary new education model could achieve for industry.

CEO’s and MD’s – your industry needs you. ELUTec will be calling!