Skills not schools: Lord Baker unveils UTC's new deal for teenage learning

Lord Baker’s emphasis on practical skills could transform secondary sector

Education Editor

Plans for pioneering “career colleges” for 14- to 19-year-olds will be approved today. The colleges will offer vocational training in a range of subjects including digital technology, construction, catering and healthcare.

The radical new breed of colleges – the brainchild of Lord Baker, a former Conservative Education Secretary – will build on his network of highly successful university technical colleges which  specialise in the so-called Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Writing in today’s Independent, Lord Baker says: “By starting at 14, youngsters have a head start in preparing for the world of work as they do in Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands, where youth unemployment is much lower.”

He added: “We have one million young people unemployed and we are issuing visas to people from overseas who have the skills that are needed – it is about time that we filled the skills gap with our own young people.”

The plans will be announced by Lord Baker who will call for more vocational colleges to be opened and say that the career colleges “fit the bill”. The first such college is scheduled to open in Oldham, greater Manchester, next year and will focus on giving its students the skills to work in the digital economy. 

One of its partners will be the University of Salford, which specialises in degrees connected to the media, now that the BBC has moved into its neighbourhood.

There are 17 UTCs already operating in Britain, with 27 more in the pipeline and proposals for a further 15 being assessed by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust (set up by Lord Baker and the late Lord Dearing, a  senior government adviser on education).

The JCB Academy in Staffordshire, the first to be set up, achieved astonishing success in its GCSEs this year with all of its students gaining five or more A* to C grade passes, including in engineering.

A further four careers colleges are to open as well as the one in Oldham. A college in Purfleet, Essex, will specialise in the creative and cultural industries, another in Oxford will cover “human health” (nursing care for the elderly, residential care and social care in the community) while a college in Bromley, Kent, will focus on food and enterprise careers. Hospitality is the third largest employment sector in south-east London.

There are also plans to set up a career college covering sports science and the management of sporting events.

As well as vocational training, the new-style colleges will also ensure their pupils study English, maths and science at GCSE. The mix in the UTCs at present is 40 per cent vocational and 60 per cent academic study.

The new career colleges will be set up on the sites of existing further education colleges but operate as separate institutions. Lord Baker is anxious to persuade more principals of further education colleges to embrace the idea.

During his time as Education Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, Kenneth Baker was responsible for many of the school reforms that have shaped education today. 

He set up the first sponsored state schools – city technology colleges in the late 1980s – and was responsible for the introduction of the national curriculum and its tests. He also gave headteachers more control over their own budgets.

In recent years Lord Baker has been campaigning to establish the UTCs as a feature in every town and city, and has chaired the Edge Foundation, which aims to improve vocational education options for pupils.

Today’s proposals come at a time when the careers service is under fire for failing to deliver adequate advice to pupils after taking over the responsibility from schools.

A report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, last month said thousands of teenagers were being denied the careers advice they desperately needed to find a job.

It added that three out of four schools visited by inspectors were not delivering adequate advice.  Inspectors said there was too much focus on pursuing an academic future rather than giving advice about vocational options.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The findings of this report come as no surprise to school and college leaders.”

Graham Stuart, the Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Education, added: “The transfer of responsibility for careers advice to schools last year was regrettable.”

In contrast, at the JCB Academy last year, not a single student left to become a “Neet” – not in employment, education or training. The latest government figures show there are more than 200,000 16- to 18-year olds who fall into this category.

Lord Baker said: “The over-arching goal for a career college is that every young person when they leave at either 16 or 19 will be in work, training or education.”

And he added: “No wonder that David Cameron said: ‘Let’s have one of these colleges in every single major town.’”

Last night government sources played down the plans. A Whitehall source said: “Lord Baker’s university technical colleges are an unproven concept and there is a long way to go before career colleges are government policy.” A Department for Educational spokesman added: “These are proposals from Ken Baker. It is not a government policy.”

Technical analysis: the rise of UTCs

The University Technical College (UTC) programme began in 2010  with the opening  of the JCB Academy in Staffordshire as an attempt to provide top technical and vocational education opportunities for 14-  to 19-year-olds.

Since then, it  has mushroomed with 17 UTCs now open, with a further 27 in the pipeline and 15 more projects being assessed by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust – which is responsible for spearheading the programme. As its name suggests, it  was set up by Lord Baker, the former Education Secretary, and the late Lord Dearing, a senior government adviser on education for years.

UTCs are sponsored by universities, but also work closely with industry and further-education (FE) colleges. The JCB Academy attracted  the interest of Cambridge University for  its excellence in engineering. The difference between UTCs and today’s “career colleges” is that the former are all housed in new buildings and set up from scratch, whereas the latter are free-standing institutions but linked to existing FE colleges.

Many large companies – such as the engineering firm  Arup, British Airways, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Sony – are among the sponsors of today’s UTCs.

Those now open include the  Silverstone UTC – which will train the back-up staff needed for Formula One racing – and the Elstree University Technical College, which has links to the nearby television studios and will train the technical-support staff necessary for the world of television, theatre and musical events.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Early Years Teachers ...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Qualified Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualifed Early Years ...

Do you want to work in Education?

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energetic gradu...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little