Teenagers will have more opportunity to study at University Technical Colleges (UTCs) from next year after the government announced 15 new institutions are set to open.
Having secured the backing of around 200 leading employers from across the UK, the new UTCs are scheduled to open between 2013 and 2014 and should provide opportunities for jobs in education.
With existing plans to open 17 of the colleges either this year or next, the announcement brings the total number of UTCs in the pipeline to 32 – beyond the government's initial ambition of creating 24.
According to figures from the Department for Education (DfE), more than 20,000 young people will train at UTCs when they have all opened.
Many of the businesses are household names, with the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways giving the institutions their backing. Their expertise will be used to create colleges that specialise in subjects such as engineering, digital technology and aviation.
The DfE believes that they will help educate the next generation of engineers and scientists equipped with the skills that employers need.
The academies are available for teenagers aged between 14 and 19, with pupils opting to attend them when they are either 14 or 16.
Around 60 per cent of teaching time is devoted to GCSEs and A-levels in traditional, core academic subjects, with the remaining time spent on the specific technical training and qualifications that the college specialises in.
Announcing the new wave of UTCs, schools minister Lord Hill revealed that he was "very pleased" with the strength of the proposals.
"Right around the country there is a lot of enthusiasm from employers, universities, pupils and parents for high-quality rigorous technical education," he remarked.
"They provide more choice for children as well as helping provide the kind of highly skilled technicians our economy needs. The response from employers to UTCs speaks for itself."
Posted by Alan Douglas