The government has announced 50,000 places are open or in development for young people to train in computing, IT and STEM subjects in technical colleges or studio schools.
Seven new university technical colleges (UTCs) and four new studio schools were announced by chancellor George Osborne yesterday.
UTCs and studio schools are supported by businesses and universities. Self described as 'more like a workplace than a school,' they offer qualifications like GCSEs as well as paid work placements that are linked to employment opportunities in the local area.
Technical or vocational curriculums are offered for 12-19 year-olds who do not want to learn in the traditional school system.
Jaguar Land Rover, Arup, Bentley and Hitachi Rail Europe are amongst the employers involved in the new UTCs announced yesterday.
By working closely with these organisations, the universities can ensure students are learning the most desirable skills for particular industries.
Watford UTC, which is partnered with Hertfordshire University, will open in September. Computer science specialist and former service desk analyst Joe Rowe will be teaching the computing and ICT stream.
Rowe told ComputerworldUK that the students will be working with companies like Cisco and Samsung.
Students on the course will be given several Raspberry Pis to create a community-orientated product as part of a competition run by security company Portcullis.
“This is giving students actual experience. The Raspberry Pi project is not only competitive but benefits the outside community as well as the computing one.”
However, increased access to technical qualifications has yet to get young women into the industry if Rowe’s register is anything to go by.
“No girls in computing, only in ICT,” he said. “I’m hoping once the UTC is up and running that will change. My experience in schools found that girls, although fewer, were always at the top.”
Speaking about the discrepancy between the new computing syllabus entering schools in September, Rowe said that it had been left to teachers to crowdsource resources to ensure they can effectively teach complex theory.
“It’s a case of let’s all help each other. Different schools are running workshops to help each other out,” he said.
There are 17 open UTCs. The seven new UTC projects approved today bring the total to 57 UTCs open or in development.