Skills shortages under the microscope

Can technical schools answer Bradford’s skills shortages? That’s the question now being considered by the local business community.

Some of the businesses in Bradford are now being asked to consider their current and likely future skills needs in order that a strategy can be developed to help support them.  University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are an idea growing in strength and support in recent years and now, through the Chamber’s help, a desire to create one in Bradford is being explored in more details.

Jack Rickard of the Baker Dearing Trust, the independent education charity led by former Education Secretary Kenneth Baker, visited the Chamber in July to speak about the work of UTCs, and to sound out firms on whether or not they feel such a development would help locally.  The Chamber played a vital role in securing a UTC in Leeds, due to open in September, and has brought this experience to discussions in Bradford.

The schools, for 14-18 year olds, focus on one or two technical specialisms, charge no fees and typically have around 600 pupils. The curriculum blends an academic education with technical and practical learning. If Bradford were to push forward for a UTC, it is expected that manufacturing and engineering would be the focus.

For the Chamber, Mike Cartwright said: “The Chamber feels that any plans for a UTC must complement existing education provision locally and that in order to succeed we must be able to articulate skills demand from employers and demonstrate how they could be delivered through the UTC.”

If you are an engineering or manufacturing company facing skills challenges we really want to hear from you, please email us here..