£10m 'Energy' college for west Cumbria confirmed

Cumbria is to get its first ever University Technical College. At present there are only two in the whole country but it's hoped to have 34 nationwide by 2014. The schools are aimed at 14 to 19 year olds, they must be sponsored by a university and local employers who must be involved, from the start, in framing the curriculum. The school day will run from 8:30am to 5:30pm providing a mix of academic and technical studies. The new Cumbria school is connected to the Energy Coast project. The Education Minister Lord Hill welcomed the news saying it would be a great boost to energy jobs locally.

UTCs integrate technical and academic learning in a workplace like environment, giving young people the skills they need to take advantage of career opportunities in their UTC specialist industry or an alternative route into University and further education. In West Cumbria, this will mean giving students the unique opportunity of acquiring knowledge and qualifications specific to the energy sector and giving them the best possible start to a future career in the industry.

Rob Rimmer, the Programme Director for Britain’s Energy Coast Campus, explained to ITV Border that the successful application shows confidence in the area:

“We are really pleased that our application proved that our vision has merit and as such now has the backing of the Department for Education. I would like to thank our local MPs Jamie Reed and Tony Cunningham for their support and the work with the Government on our behalf.”

– Rob Rimmer

He also explained what kinds of students they will be expecting and the time frame they'll be working to.

With the announcement by the Government of West Cumbria’s success in the UTC application process, Britain’s Energy Coast Campus will soon begin to consult widely, including with the local community, schools and businesses, on the development of the UTC before contracts with the Department of Education are finalised in the autumn.

Rob Rimmer added:

“We will be working hard now to make sure that our UTC is developed to fit the needs of students and future employers in West Cumbria and the job of the consultation is to make sure that we plan the perfect UTC for our area. The Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster has been very supportive and we will expect their businesses now to work closely with us in shaping the UTC for their needs. As well as teaching national curriculum subjects we envisage that the UTC will focus on subjects including nuclear, on and off shore wind farming, tidal and hydro, bio-mass, anaerobic digestion and solar energies and the developing fields in green construction techniques. ”

– Rob Rimmer

Mike Smith, Chief Executive for GEN II Training, said:

“GEN II is fully committed as a sponsor of Britain’s Energy Coast UTC and will bring our significant experience and expertise in vocational training and education not only to enhance the work of the UTC, but also add considerable value to its learner’s experience and educational attainment.”

– Mike Smith

Cath Richardson, Principal for Lakes College West Cumbria added:

“The Energy Coast is an important and valuable asset for the region and one which the College is committed to supporting. Britain’s Energy Coast UTC will provide an excellent and distinctive additional progression route for learners and thereby a valuable opportunity for young people to achieve and contribute.”

– Cath Richardson

Liz Beaty, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said:

"Developing progression routes for learners is a key aim for the University and the UTC model clearly offers a new opportunity to achieve this and a strong fit to meet the challenge of the future skills requirements of the energy industry in our region"

– Liz Beaty