Teens to start college aged 14

The UTC Sheffield Yorkshire's first university technical college opens to students
The UTC Sheffield Yorkshire's first university technical college opens to students

Youngsters in Doncaster are set to be offered the chance to opt out of lessons at school to switch to a new college at the age of 14.

An application has been submitted to create the borough’s first university technical college, which would allow pupils to take up courses in practical skills.

They would still be involved in mainstream school for some lessons.

Doncaster’s bid to have a UTC, which is being led by Elsium Solutions Ltd, was discussed by the town’s rail and engineering companies at their latest Rail Partnership Meeting.

The UTC would enable students from 14 to 19 years of age to gain engineering and digital skills and real-life work experience.

Vocational training would be given alongside traditional subjects like maths, English and science to improve students’ job prospects in the engineering sector.

News of the bid comes hot on the heels of the Government’s decision to base the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster, and is being supported by Doncaster Council in an effort to create jobs and economic growth across the borough.

The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: “The bid to have a university technology college here in Doncaster is another boost for young people looking to start an engineering career.

“It would also complement our High Speed Rail College by providing our rail and engineering businesses with a talent pool of appropriately trained and skilled individuals.

“It is vitally important we offer our young people routes into rewarding careers with bright prospects. The planned programme would be a win-win for local businesses and our young people.”

Elsium Solutions operations manager Lois Mee said: “The Doncaster UTC will bring and grow a provision of excellence in digital and technical engineering skills to enable both small and large scale companies to recruit from the area.

“It will also provide an education experience for the learners of the borough that will raise aspirations and achievement levels.”

Young people from communities across the borough would benefit from real work experience through private sector backing.

And businesses would steer the training students receive based on their needs, giving them access to workforce support.

It is hoped the programme would be a chance not only for firms to grow their business but to create potential employment for students completing their studies.

The UTC would also share best practice with local schools, to encourage higher achievement among learners and ensure they are better prepared for a highly skilled and well-paid career.

The application for a UTC will be submitted this month and, subject to the necessary approvals, would be open in September 2017, the same time as the High Speed Rail College.