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Fri June 25 2021

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Walsall to get a school for construction

30 May 12 CITB ConstructionSkills has had its bid approved for a construction-focused University Technical College (UTC) for young people in the West Midlands.

Having secured approval from the Department for Education, the aim is to open in September 2014. The West Midlands UTC will share space with the Black Country UTC in the buildings formerly occupied by Sneyd School in Walsall.

Co-sponsors of the West Midlands UTC are Walsall College and the University of Wolverhampton. The aim is to offer 14-19 year olds in the West Midlands practical, vocational and technical studies in a wide range of specialist skills that will help prepare them for a career in the construction industry.

With support from construction industry partners including Wilmott Dixon, Balfour Beattie, Morgan Sindall and Lovell, Hewden Stewart and Barhale Construction, the college will offer a curriculum based upon construction and the built environment as well as the use of information technology, sustainability and green technologies.

The sponsors intend to build a separate technical annex and also occupy approximately 30% of the existing school building.  Procurement of this construction is likely to be through the schools framework. 

The new college was one of 45 that submitted a bid for approval to the Department of Education and one of 15 to be chosen.

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CITB-ConstructionSkills head of business development services Nigel Donohue said: “This is great news for the West Midlands. We made a strong bid to the Department for Education which has clearly been recognised. The UTC will broaden the education and career opportunities for 14 – 19 year olds and provide a solid foundation for them to build a career in construction.

“Importantly the UTC will offer the construction industry the opportunity to support learners through a curriculum which meets their current and future needs and ensures the best opportunity for progression into employment through the apprenticeship or graduate route and helps deliver a high quality workforce delivering some of our iconic national and international projects.”

Janie Chesterton, education sector director at Willmott Dixon, was part of the five-person bidding team to the DfE. She will sit on the UTC's governing body and help devise the curriculum to ensure employers’ needs are met. She said: “This is great news for the Midlands’ construction sector. Even in these hard times we can struggle to find suitably qualified people to deliver our projects. Against a backdrop of rising youth unemployment the initiative provides significantly better job prospects for those coming out of the education system, whether that’s at 16, 19 or following higher education.”

Britain’s first UTC opened in September 2010. The government has committed to opening 24 by 2014/15.

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