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Conversations with major local employers helped Lee Barber, Principal and CEO at University Technical College Warrington (UTCW) discover where the skill gaps were that his fledgling academy had to fill.  With a little ingenuity, Barber knew there was one key capability that UTCW could provide…project management!

UTCW is a premier Key Stage 4 and 6th Form academy dedicated to providing a specialist curriculum that excels in Science and Engineering. Their £10 million iconic building was completed in September 2016, it contains some £1m worth of specialist engineering and digital equipment.

Barber outlines their goal “At UTC Warrington, the aim is to create a unique, aspirational, technical and academic curriculum, which prepares students for an exciting career. This could be via full time university study, a degree apprenticeship or direct entry into employment. Alongside our powerful network of employer and university partners, getting students into outstanding destinations is our passion. At the heart of this lies our aspiration for students to achieve the best Maths, English, Science and Engineering outcomes at GCSE and A Level.”

In a ground-breaking venture, the UTC joined forces with one of the UK’s leading IT Best Practice training providers to a give class of 13 students the chance to get an industry recognised qualification to sit alongside their academic endeavours. David Pownall, Head of Computing at the UTC and course leader commented, “We’d spoken to local organisations who sponsor us like Nuvia, Fujitsu and Sellafield and they identified Project Management as a huge capability gap.  PRINCE2 is the de facto standard for many of our sponsoring organisations so that was an easy choice.  We selected to work with Global Knowledge because of their track record in similar engagements, a real desire to see students progress and their flexibility to meet our needs.”

The course was delivered through a blended combination of Global Knowledge’s PRINCE2 E-learning solution, tutorials from David, and intensive exam sessions delivered by Global Knowledge.  Barry Corless, Business Development Director at Global Knowledge adds “You cannot help but be blown away by the facilities at the UTCW.  The passion of staff and students is outstanding as is their commitment to learning.  The extra sponsorship and support we got from Axelos in providing complimentary PRINCE2 memberships to the students gave them every chance of passing”.

Exam day was set for July at the end of a long summer term but after two days intensive tutoring 13 students walked away with a PRINCE2 Foundation pass.  The student consensus was that despite some of the language being unfamiliar the skills learned as part of the education were ones that were relevant to careers they were looking at.

With a successful 2017 cohort delivered, UTCW’s 2018 plans include working with Global Knowledge to give up to 40 students a PRINCE2 qualification.  They are even thinking that demand could well outstrip what they can supply.  Buoyed by that success Barber and Pownall are now planning their assault highly sought after cyber resilience skills.  They are already investigating the possibility of teaching Axelos’ Cyber Resilience best practice guidance, Resilia to their students.


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