Paving the Way for the Next Generation of STEM Talent

Lord Kenneth Baker of Dorking is a prominent figure in British education, having, among many other achievements, spearheaded the initiative for University Technical Colleges (UTC) in 2010. While these schools existed before 1945, they have since been abolished and, as a result, led to a massive shortage in technical skills which Lord Baker set out to address a decade ago. Today, there are 49 UTCs spread across the UK, specialising in science, engineering, digital and healthcare.

“These schools are very different from ordinary schools,” Lord Baker explains. When students enter at the age 14, the curriculum is 60% academic and 40% practical. At 16, they switch to 60% practical and 40% academic work. While on average 7% of school leavers go into apprenticeships, around 23% of UTC leavers pursue this path. 80% go into university to study STEM subjects, compared to the national average of 22%.

UTCs prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Driven by local industry needs, they are located in areas of high skills demand and work with over 400 of the best employers and universities to provide direct pathways into careers across STEM. Employers working with UTCs include Google, BT, the NHS, Network Rail, General Electric, Airbus, Siemens, Rolls-Royce and the Royal Navy.

Springpod play a key role in pairing up students with their dream employers. “They are the bridge between our talent and employers of all sizes,” Lord Baker says. Local organisations are invited to come into UTCs and embed their employer brand into the curriculum and work with students on practical projects. By exposing students to real-life work scenarios, they develop a set of core skills (teamwork, problem solving, dexterity) that they can apply in their future careers.

“These are qualities all youngsters need when they leave the education system today. Most schools are failing to provide that,” Lord Baker adds. “We are producing high pathways of opportunity and have the best destination data of any schools in the country.” 99% of UTC leavers end up in higher education, compared to the 90% industry average.

Lord Baker believes a major revolution is needed in the following years to change the basic curriculum of British schools to drive economic success. UTCs are already paving the way for the next generation of practically-driven STEM talent, aiming to address the gaping talent shortages across the country. Employers who recognise the value of technical education and want to grow their talent pipelines can get involved with a local UTC and engage with alumni about job opportunities, work experience and apprenticeships.

View Lord Baker's presentation

Lord Kenneth Baker of Dorking,

Former Secretary of State for Science & Education and UTC Chairman