Hull’s new employer-led university technical college (UTC) has teamed up with the city’s digital hub to develop the next generation of tech talent.
The Ron Dearing UTC will specialise in digital technology and mechatronics – a combination of computing and engineering – and says the partnership with the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) is a “natural match”.
The partnership will see the two organisations collaborate in a wide variety of ways to build on Hull’s growing reputation as a hotbed for digital innovation and skills.
The UTC has rented an office at C4DI in Hull’s Fruit Market so that it is at the heart of the city’s tech community and will benefit from building links with established and fledgling digital businesses in the lead-up to the opening of the UTC’s £10m new building in September next year.
In addition, the UTC will make use of C4DI’s state-of-the-art facilities, including presentation studio, boardroom and breakout area, for meetings and events with the UTC’s sponsor organisations, businesses and business groups and other stakeholders.
The UTC team will also hold individual information, advice and guidance meetings with prospective students and their parents or carers at C4DI, enabling them to find out more about the UTC’s unique educational model, curriculum, culture and values.
Principal designate Sarah Pashley said: “This partnership is a huge advantage for us and a natural match for both organisations.
“C4Di is acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading tech hubs and I don’t know of another one with such a strong relationship with a school or college, including C4DI being our home in the lead-up to the opening of the UTC.
“Building our links with the city’s tech community now will enhance our curriculum and the opportunities we can offer when we do open. For example, we want to set up internships for our students with the exciting digital businesses at C4DI.
“We believe this partnership is unique and will really give our students the edge. It’s also a great opportunity for C4DI and the businesses based there, as they need a flow of tech-savvy young people with the digital skills we will develop.”
C4DI managing director John Connolly, who is also a Shadow Governor of the UTC, said: “It’s great the UTC team are moving to C4DI and we will be working together so closely.
“One of the key challenges for the region’s economy is developing the advanced digital skills that are in ever-increasing demand from businesses across all sectors. The UTC will provide a pipeline of talented young people with exactly those skills for local businesses, including those based at C4DI.
“By working with the UTC we can promote to students and parents the vast range of exciting opportunities open to young people with digital and technical skills. We have so many great examples here of fast-growing businesses that are developing amazing digital products and services.”
C4DI opened in December 2015 as the centrepiece of Hull-based regeneration company Wykeland Group’s £15m @TheDock development. The upper floors host a wide range of industry-leading digital businesses while the ground floor is a collaborative community for freelance technology specialists.
C4DI has a simple mission – to help tech start-ups grow and big businesses innovate by using technology more efficiently. C4DI’s fast-growing co-working community of digital specialists are developing projects delivered by C4DI for more than 30 member businesses, including global organisations such as Siemens and RB.
The UTC’s start-up team of Mrs Pashley and Vice Principal Designates, Mark Ollerenshaw and Steve Willacy, will move into their office at C4DI on August 15.
Mr Ollerenshaw said: “Obviously we haven’t got our own building as yet, so we were looking for the very best environment to bring potential students, parents and employers into that matches as closely as possible how the UTC will be. This is a really exciting, inspirational and aspirational place to work and to learn and the UTC will be that too.”
Mr Willacy said: “We’re developing an innovative model for education and our employer sponsors are very keen for our students to be able to innovate, as that makes them highly employable. So being here at the heart of digital innovation not only in Hull, but in the UK, puts us at a real advantage.
“This is an amazing environment for us to create an innovative educational model and develop the very best setting and curriculum for when we move into our new building.”
Mrs Pashley added: “We will soon announce a series of student recruitment events, each of which will be followed by drop-in events hosted at C4DI.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming parents and carers to C4DI for those events, so they can find out more about the fabulous new option we are offering for young people to develop highly sought-after skills, supported by some of the region’s biggest and best companies.”
The Ron Dearing UTC will open in purpose-built premises next to Hull New Theatre in Hull city centre in September 2017 and will ultimately accommodate up to 600 students, aged 14 to 19. The UTC is named after Hull-born Lord Ron Dearing, an educational reformer who promoted technical and vocational education.
The UTC is backed by lead educational partner the University of Hull and five of the area’s largest and most successful employers – communications provider KCOM; consumer health leader RB; engineering giant Siemens; global medical technology business Smith & Nephew and specialist engineering business Spencer Group.