Green Light Midlands Construction School

Willmott Dixon has welcomed plans to build up the West Midlands’ first University Technical College (UTC) specialising in construction after the Department for Education (DfE) gave it the green light.

Only one construction-based UTC, the West Midlands Construction University Technical College (WMCUTC), was given the go-ahead in this round of bidding thanks to the support of Willmott Dixon, which has approximately 1,000 employees in Birmingham and the surrounding region.

Once the college was up and running, the 160-year-old construction firm made a commitment to a long-term partnership and played a key role in leading the proposal. It also builds on the investment in skills that Willmott Dixon is making in its Centre for Skills academy, which is geared at the adult training sector and will be built up in Birmingham later this year.

UTCs are new technical academies for 14-19-year-olds and teach traditional topics such as English, arithmetic and modern languages, with vocational skills such as engineering or construction. There will be up to 600 students enrolled in the West Midlands Construction UTC, which will be based in Walsall and serve the Birmingham, Black Country, North Solihull, Telford/Wrekin, and South Staffs metropolitan areas.

The Black Country UTC on Vernon Way will serve as the college’s home base, and supporters hope that the UTC will open its doors in September of that year.

Each UTC is sponsored by a university – the University of Wolverhampton and Walsall College are behind the Walsall UTC – an industry partner, in this case CITB Construction Skills, the industry’s training board and sector skills council, plus a key employer sponsor, in this case Willmott Dixon.

Janie Chesterton, education sector director at Willmott Dixon, was part of the five-person bidding team to the DfE. Her participation in the college’s governing council will allow her to contribute to the development of the curriculum in order to meet the demands of employers. She said: “This is great news for the Midlands’ construction sector. Even in these terrible circumstances we can struggle to locate properly skilled employees to deliver our projects. Against a backdrop of rising young unemployment the project gives much better work chances for individuals coming out of the education system, whether that’s at 16, 19 or following higher study.”

The establishment of the school was prompted by a scarcity of qualified workers in the area. CITB research shows an anticipated demand for additional construction managers in the region. As a supplementary component of the investigation the CITB also surveyed the community. There was an incredibly positive response from community responses.

More than 90% of those polled agreed that the UTC would be a boon to the region when asked in person. This new educational model’s ability to elevate the status of career-focused credentials is also seen favourably.

“insulation-attic” in the sc

Building services, artisan skills, and green technology will all be part of the curriculum at the West Midlands Construction UTC. Its emphasis will be on project based learning with significant employer linkages. As a result, the UTC will serve as a springboard for apprenticeships and further education in the construction industry, resulting in more jobs for the region.
Britain’s first UTC opened in September 2010. The Government has promised to opening 24 by 2014/15.

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Last Updated on December 29, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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