A major expansion for the network of top-class university technical colleges for 14 to 18-year-olds has been given the go-ahead by ministers.
Seven new colleges, which will offer vocational education to teenagers in a bid to meet the demands of modern industry, are to be founded across the country, bringing the total to 57.
A further tranche is expected to be approved early in the New Year, which will bring the total to around 70 either approved or starting by the time of the election campaign.
The go-ahead for the seven is seen as a sign of the renewed commitment of the Coalition government to the project, which is the brainchild of former Conservative Education Secretary Kenneth [now Lord] Baker.
In the past, critics accused former Education Secretary Michael Gove of lacking enthusiasm for vocational education even though projects were approved.
In all, the seven new projects will teach 5,000 pupils when fully operational, bringing the total number in UTCs to 50,000.
Top industries are backing the scheme with Jaguar, Bentley, Unilever and Kodak amongst the business sponsors. All UTCS have one higher education sponsor as well as those from business.
In Jaguar’s case. the UTC it is sponsoring in Coventry, following backing for another in the Midlands at Solihull.
“They can’t recruit enough engineers of sufficient quality,” Lord Baker told The Independent.
The seven approved are: Bromley UTC, Crewe, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield Human science and Digital Technologies, South Durham, and WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Solihull.
Announcing the expansion plans, Chancellor George Osborne said: "The new colleges will provide the next generation of British workers with the skills they need to secure the high-tech jobs of the future."