Over 70 top employers and Sheffield’s two major universities work with UTC Sheffield. This partnership, together with the employer-led curriculum and approach, enables students to develop their employability skills such as problem-solving, time-management, organisation, teamwork, leadership and communication.
Employer partners at the UTC contribute in a number of ways: consulting on the curriculum, offering real-life projects for students to undertake, mentoring students, providing opportunities for trips and tours, as well as bespoke work placements.
Student experience at both Sheffield UTCs is dominated by employer-led projects. These projects drive not only the specialist, technical elements of the curriculum but also support the academic and employability elements too.
“I love the breadth of what the utc students are interested in. it keeps me on my toes. a lot of my work is about engaging with younger audiences so it’s good to speak to young people and find out what they’re thinking.”
Nigel Strafford, graphic design at Clear Channel, one of the biggest advertising companies in the world.
Every employer project is different but here is an outline of how it usually works:
Employers provide a commission – a problem they need solving or a piece of work they regularly undertake in their businesses.
They usually visit the UTC to give a briefing and set the assignment at the beginning.
If it is a long project, they might come back in to the UTC to see how students are getting on and provide some mentoring or a master class.
At the end of the project students present their work to the employer and receive feedback. They may also visit the employer.
The project is studied as part of the curriculum – it provides a practical scenario to which students can apply their learning, so throughout the project students are learning their course units but always related to the world of work.
Here is an example of what a project may look like:
Warp Films is a BAFTA award winning film and television production company with offices in Sheffield and London as well as a sister company in Australia. Warp has become an established international brand within the film and television industry following the success of ‘This Is England’ and ‘Four Lions’.
Producer Mark Herbert, who also worked on ‘Phoenix Nights’ with Peter Kay, is a regular visitor to the UTC. For one project, Mark set students a challenge to develop and launch a music video for their unit on audio-visual promos, or a film trailer linked to their unit on production and post-production for film.
UTC students had to present their work to Mark at the end of the year and present it to the public as part of the South Yorkshire Film Network’s ‘Showroom Shorts’ event at the Showroom Cinema.
Mentoring is an important element of the many and varied ways in which employers are actively involved with the UTC.
“What really strikes me is that the utc students are so enthusiastic – it’s clear they want to be there and to learn. the students on the engineering courses at the utc really want to go into engineering and they’re motivated. that’s what our industry needs.”
Amy Schofield, Business Development Manager, Lavender International
Every term, students meet with mentors from an array of businesses. Employer Mentoring events are highly beneficial to both employers and students as they offer employers the chance to meet students and discover emerging talent, at the same time as giving students the chance to meet industry leaders and experts to discuss their personal skills development and career paths. Students have the opportunity to find out about the employer’s career journey and ask what employers are looking for in employees. It’s also an opportunity to find out more about the sectors.
Students are carefully matched with employers, based on interest and career aspirations, ensuring both parties gain a valuable experience.
During the sessions, businesses are also given the opportunity to tour the facilities, meet staff and students and hear about the UTC’s progress and future plans.
Placements, Trips and Tours
Work experience at the UTC is all about matching interests with opportunities. In addition to regular work experience, the UTC matches students very specifically with particular employers and projects or types of work based on their strengths and interests. There is a careful selection and preparation process, which might involve an interview with the employer. This type of placement can vary in length and provides an outstanding opportunity to gain an insight into what it is like to work in the sector. In addition, students have the opportunity to visit employer premises as well as to participate in national competitions and events as part of their studies. This builds up a rich mix of experience that complements study paths, helping to develop confidence and communication skills.