UTC Sheffield students to benefit from £1.1 million engineering skills boost in national first

Posted on 18 September 2020 in News, UTC Sheffield City Centre

Student using machinery

Teenagers at UTC Sheffield are set to be the first in the country to develop a new range of in demand high-level digital engineering skills, thanks to a £1.1 million funding boost.

UTC Sheffield City Centre, on Matilda Street, has been successful with a skills capital bid to Sheffield City Region for the installation of a new automation, machining and composites manufacturing facility.

The UTC is the first education provider in the north of England to provide this type of training to students at this age range. Its students will be the youngest in the country to develop these advanced skills from the age of 13.

The £1.1 million project is being backed by a £494,000 grant from Sheffield City Region for the equipment and £514,000 worth of support from project partners Festo Didactic and XYZ Machine Tools.

State-of-the-art automation equipment, a facility for manufacturing carbon composite components, additive manufacturing machinery and two computer numerical control machines, as well as five manual lathes and milling machines, have been included in the grant funding.

Alex Reynolds, Principal of UTC Sheffield City Centre, said: “Our employer backed curriculum ensures our students have the latest world class skills that industry leaders in the engineering and manufacturing sectors need for growth.”

He added: “We are thrilled that our students will be the first of their generation nationally to develop these high-tech digital skills. Industry skills requirements continue to evolve and change, and require high-quality, cutting-edge equipment. We would like to thank Sheffield City Region, Festo Didactic, McLaren Automotive and XYZ Machine Tools for their support.”

Automation and composite manufacturing skills are in demand by employers, particularly those in the aerospace, motorsport and automotive industries. Sheffield City Region is home to top companies in those sectors including Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, supercar maker McLaren Automotive and Rolls-Royce, based at or near the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

The skills will enable learners to create complex and lightweight carbon fibre parts that are weight saving and efficient, whilst older students will learn about designing components for production in carbon fibre. These processes are becoming increasingly significant in the automotive industry, particularly in conjunction with vehicle electrification, which requires lighter components.

Wes Jacklin, Plant Director for the McLaren Composites Technology Centre said: “McLaren Automotive is delighted to back the Sheffield UTC’s focus on encouraging development of regional skills and talent in composite and lightweight materials.

“Our work at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre here in the Sheffield region is focused on innovating lightweight materials, processes and production. That work will help provide our customers with better performance and handling and also mean we can develop more energy efficient vehicles, which could potentially benefit the wider automotive and transport sectors.

“McLaren is leading on composite innovation and alongside that we want to do our bit to support the region to help continue to build its regional talent and capabilities in this increasingly important area.”

Babak Jahanbani, Managing Director, Didactic Services Ltd, said: “With our departure from the European Union, the availability of a well educated and skilled workforce is becoming ever more important. This is a key factor in ensuring that the manufacturing sector in the UK becomes more competitive and grows.”

He explained: “This can only happen if learners have the right knowledge. UTC Sheffield City Centre students will have the privilege of training with new technologies from an early age as the UK invests in home grown talent.”

John Aspinall, Education Sales Director, XYZ Machine Tools, added: “We are honoured to support the UTC with its forward thinking, ambitious plans and to have the opportunity to provide tomorrow’s engineers with state-of-the-art equipment.”

At UTC Sheffield City Centre, which is Ofsted graded ‘good’, students complete technical qualifications equivalent to between one and three A Levels as well as GCSEs and A levels.  Learners work on employer-led projects, developing skills related to the subject specialism as well as team working and problem solving.

Employers supporting the UTC include AES Seal, Bauer Media Group, Fernite, Festo, Finger Industries, Hive, Inspec Solutions, Lavender International, PES Performance, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Live, the University of Sheffield, Siemens and Sumo Digital.

UTCs are government funded technical schools that provide academic and technical qualifications to match the skills needs of regional employers, supporting economic growth and employment.