Sheffield campaign raises awareness of studying technical qualifications benefits

A campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of studying technical qualifications from the age of 14 is taking place this week.

Think UTC celebrates the work that University Technical Colleges do to inspire young people to become the scientists, engineers, technologists and innovators of the future. The national day, on March 17th, is being supported by UTC Sheffield - which offers five technical specialisms as well as academic qualifications at two campuses for young people aged 14 to 19.

Nick Crew, Executive Principal, UTC Sheffield, said: “We are very pleased to support this campaign which is raising awareness of University Technical Colleges across the country, and the benefits of studying technical qualifications from the age of 14.” He added: “UTCs are very different to traditional schools with a remit to deliver a curriculum that is backed by employers and equips students with the skills their local regional economy needs.”

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Sheffield is the only city outside of London to currently have two UTCs. Students can join the UTC in Year 10 at the age of 14 or in Year 12 at the age of 16, and complete GCSEs and A Levels as well as a technical qualification. The Sheffield College, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce sponsor the UTC and more than 50 employers support it.

Student Ellie O’Connell, aged 14, joined at the start of this academic year and juggles her studies with competing at a high level in ice dancing, having represented Great Britain. Ellie is completing GCSEs and a technical qualification in sport science at UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus. For more information on Ellie’s story, visit

The accomplished ice skater, who appears in the CBBC television series Ice Stars currently trains for 15 hours a week and has ambitions to compete internationally. Ellie trains with her ice dancing partner Josh Tarry in Nottingham and at iceSheffield, opposite UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Ellie said: “I feel really settled. I’m completing GCSEs and a technical qualification in sport science. Employers are involved in the technical subjects that we study and have also helped to design the buildings, provide mentoring, course projects and work experience.”

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Ellie added: “I really enjoy the practical aspects of the course and the specialist equipment that we use. I like the fact that we get to visit employers including the English Institute of Sport and see how the subject we are studying relates to real life. I’m not sure what I want to do as a career just yet but I’m interested in physiotherapy and midwifery.”

UTC Sheffield City Centre campus, on Matilda Street, specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing, and creative and digital, and opened in 2013. UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus on Old Hall Road, specialises in computing, health sciences and sport science, and opened in 2016.

All 100% of UTC leavers in 2016 have gone on to a positive destination including university, an apprenticeship, employment or further training. None are classed as NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Of the students who finished their studies at the UTC in summer 2016, 45% have gone on to university, including Russell Group institutions, when the national average for schools is 38%, and 28% have gone on to apprenticeships when the national average for schools is 7%.

Some places are still available starting September 2017. For more information about showcase events in March and April, visit or call 0114 2603970. Follow us on Twitter @UTCSheffield and Facebook #ThinkUTC and #Think14