‘Employer-led colleges are the answer, not grammar schools’, says former Hull MP

Former MP for Hull West and Hessle Alan Johnson.
Former MP for Hull West and Hessle Alan Johnson.
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A new employer-led college will help to develop a pipeline of talent to support the region’s economic growth as education and industry come together, according to a leading politician.

Alan Johnson, inset, who served as MP for Hull West and Hessle up until the last general election, has been announced as the new patron of the £10m Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC).

The former Education Secretary led the successful campaign to win Government support to establish Hull’s first employer-driven school.

And he told The Yorkshire Post that the new education model and its partnership with the region’s leading businesses would play a key part in the ongoing regeneration of the city.

He said: “When I was Education Secretary, I was a big supporter of the concept of the UTC.

“I was really pleased the coalition Government continued to support it and there was a political consensus.

“We are always searching to find a way we can bring together the mix of practical education and economic education that many other cities in Europe have done successfully for many years. A UTC does this and I am pleased to see one in Hull.

“The college itself is a beautiful building and is part of the regeneration of the city.”

Mr Johnson said the students coming through the UTC would act as trailblazers when it came to homegrown talent, boosting Hull’s economy and helping to address a

nationwide skills shortage.

He added: “It’s about showing we have the skills to ensure companies like Siemens, Smith and Nephew and RB feel they have the right supply of skills coming from the city and don’t have go elsewhere.

“There is a huge skills shortage in this country, particularly when it comes to engineering. We are 1.8m engineers short of what we need across the UK.

“We need to be less dependent on financial services and more dependant on manufacturing. That’s something UTCs can go some way towards addressing.”

Mr Johnson said the colleges would also help to improve social mobility in education, as students from different backgrounds were encouraged to join.

He said: “UTCs are the answer, not grammar schools.

“The result in Hull has been absolutely amazing in terms of those interested in coming to take up a course at the UTC.”

Ron Dearing UTC has more than 20 business partners, representing a total of more than 10,000 employees across the region.

The line-up is led by the school’s Founding Partners – the University of Hull and leading employers KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith and Nephew and Spencer Group.

They are joined by a wide range of other businesses and organisations, all committed to supporting Ron Dearing UTC’s mission to develop a new generation of work-ready young people with advanced digital skills.

Mr Johnson said: “For a UTC to work there has to be a number of partners on board and we have got that big-time in Hull.”