An award-winning education programme that gives students a head start into digital careers has reached Swindon.
The innovation is is rolling out to UTC Swindon alongside UTC Reading and UTC Oxfordshire following its successful launch at UTC Heathrow.
The Digital Futures Programme, which was developed by the Active Learning Education Trust in close collaboration with leading digital infrastructure industry employers, is a first for any UK school.
Aimed at students aged 14-19, the programme, which contributes to a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Engineering (NQF), equips students with the essential knowledge and skills needed to thrive in technical careers within the digital infrastructure industry.
This includes the network cabling and data centre sectors and other digital environments.
The programme was launched in 2021 by UTC Heathrow and its supporting employer partners, and has gone from strength to strength, with the partnership being recognised with three global awards, including the Education and Employment Project Award of the Year at the Datacloud Global Awards.
Industry partners not only provide support in developing the curriculum but also by giving valuable time to deliver a mix of employer-led projects, challenge days, masterclasses and skills workshops to the students as part of the programme.
More importantly, the programme is already having an impact, with the first set of UTC Heathrow graduates taking up apprenticeship roles with industry partners as a direct result of the programme.
This is hugely important to the digital infrastructure industry, which is relied upon so heavily by our modern, digitally connected world, but is facing an ongoing skills shortage.
Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET) and its supporting partners are proactively working to educate students in these important, transferable skills, helping to build a stronger, more sustainable future for the industry, as well as highlighting a new and rewarding career path option to the students.
UTCs are secondary schools and sixth forms that focus on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), allowing students to focus their learning on engineering, digital and science, alongside the core curriculum of English, maths and science.
The roll-out was announced at an event attended by nine of the employer partners – (Amazon Web Services, ARK Data Centres, CBRE, CNet Training, CyrusOne, Digital Realty, LMG, Virtus Data Centres and Yondr) – at UTC Reading.
Mike Halliday, Head of Employer Engagement at ALET, who has been instrumental in getting the programme off the ground, said: “ALET is playing a critical part in building a skills pipeline essential to the UK economy to be competitive in the digital world.
"The Digital Futures Programme represents a unique opportunity for industry to be engaged at a programmatic level to transform the lives of younger people.”
Jo Harper, CEO of ALET, said: “The UK is facing an unprecedented skills shortage: we need engineers, computer scientists and other digitally-skilled staff.
"The Digital Futures Programme is focused on equipping students with the skills to succeed in the digital industries, bringing together companies which are serious about acting to address the skills shortage with STEM-focused schools with specialisms in digital, engineering and science prepared to forge a new path for their students.”
More information about the Digital Futures Programme canbe found at www.heathrow-utc.org/employers/digital-futures-programme/
UTC Swindon will be holding an open event on 26 February.
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