When it comes to equipping pupils with the qualifications, skills and experiences needed to prepare them for future employment, Lincoln University Technical College (UTC) is not like most schools.
The specialist Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics college for 14 to 18 year olds, has a range of business partners, with which it works closely, to offer real work experience placements.
As well as its founding sponsor, Siemens, Lincoln UTC’s board of governors includes Neil Main, managing director of Micrometric.
Year 10 student, Jack Pead, spent two weeks with Europe’s leading laser cutting business, seeing how it manufactures fine parts and precision components from prototype through to volume production.
The placement is a perfect fit for Jack, who is set on a career in engineering as Micrometric’s management and engineering teams have strong scientific and engineering experience.
Micrometric’s customers span a wide range of industries, from aerospace and automotive, through to energy, oil and gas.
During his fortnight with the company, Jack spent time in all of Micrometrics’ departments from sales through to production.
"It was a great week and I learnt a lot," says Jack. "I have seen how the production line works and used lots of different machines. It is really interesting to see how what I’ve been learning in the classroom is actually used in the factory. I’ve really enjoyed it and everyone at Micrometric made me feel really welcome and I felt part of their team. The work experience placement has made me even more determined to get into engineering when I leave Lincoln UTC."
Another Year 10 student, William Brown, chose to apply to Branston Ltd, one the UK’s largest suppliers of potatoes.
William spent a week with Branston’s engineering department, working on a range of projects, learning to weld and helping the team with ‘shouts’ as they ensured the factory, which handles over 200,000 tonnes of potatoes every year, operated to maximum efficiency.
"I heard other people had undertaken work experience at Branston and enjoyed it, so I decided I’d like to spend a week with them too,” says William. “It’s been really interesting and I’ve learnt a lot in just a week. I want to have a career in engineering and maybe design, so working here and learning to weld and making my own desk tidy out of metal, has been great!"
In total, 63 students from Year 12 secured work experience placements with a wide variety of organisations from the Royal Air Force and Cobham Aviation through to JCB and Lindum Construction.
The benefits of work experience placements are numerous says Aggi Doughty, Head of Careers & Industrial Partnerships at Lincoln UTC, and has in the past led to pupils gaining employment with their host company.
"Not all work experience placements really benefit the student,” says Aggi. “Some placements revolve around watching and listening or making endless cups of tea and coffee for people. This isn’t the case at Lincoln UTC. We work hard to with our employer partners to ensure that our placements are hands-on experiences. Our students get to use the knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom in the real world. They learn new skills by doing real work. Some of our students, such as Bryce, who spent two weeks with two different companies, Linwave and Meddo impressed them both so much with his skills, attitude and knowledge that they offered him/her an apprenticeship which they went onto after completing their GCSEs."
Lincoln UTC welcomes up to 160 students into Year 10 and Year 12 each academic year. At the end of the 2015/16 academic year, 100% of leavers entered education, employment or training with 93% of students securing their first choice university. A wealth of Apprenticeship opportunities were also secured by UTC students in Years 11, 12 and 13 including Siemens, Alan Woods, Fairfield, the Royal Navy and Air Tanker.
There are no entry requirements for entry into Year 10 but students must have a strong interest in Engineering and/or Science and a desire to combine practical, technical and academic modes of study. Entry requirements for Year 12 courses and further details about life at the UTC can be found at www.lincolnutc.co.uk/p>