Seven years in: can University Technical Colleges develop work-ready students to fill the skills gap?
12 December 2017
The first evaluation of University Technical College (UTC) approaches to curriculum design and employer engagement has found that project-based learning and employer involvement has helped to create more well-rounded, work-ready students. The new report, published today, was undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research on behalf of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Edge Foundation to evaluate the UTC model to inform sector-wide practice.
In this interim report, titled: ‘Evaluation of University Technical Colleges (UTCs)’, researchers visited 10 UTCs, three in the north of England, three in the midlands and four in the south of England, interviewing leaders, staff, pupils, employers and sponsoring universities.
Key findings from today’s report include:
- There are a range of approaches currently used to engage and liaise with employers and to utilise their input into the design and delivery of the curriculum. Some UTCs have relationships with employers where they are co-developing and delivering projects, with employers taking ownership of curriculum units.
- Most young people enrolled due to an interest in the specialism or to learn about the world of work.
- The main challenges faced were ensuring that UTCs secured and managed a suitable range of employers providing high-quality input into the curriculum; recruiting and retaining appropriate students with an interest in the specialism and motivated to engage and succeed, and high-calibre staff with appropriate knowledge and skills.
The report advises new UTCs to:
- develop a clear vision and mission; raise the UTC’s profile and reputation
- ensure pupils develop meaningful, relevant and appropriate skills
- invest in building and maintaining quality relationships with employers
- provide regular and sustained exposure to a range of industry partners.
The next stage of the evaluation, to be published next year, will focus on UTCs with high levels of employer and university engagement and will include a best practice guide for UTCs on working with education and industry stakeholders.
You can find the interim report here.