Swindon’s new UTC sums up town’s ‘can-do’ attitude, businesses are told at its first partnership event

November 7, 2014

Swindon’s recently-opened UTC, which is equipping young people with the modern skills needed by its advanced engineering firms, epitomises the town’s ‘can-do’ attitude, MP Robert Buckland told its first business partnership event yesterday.

The £10m UTC (university technical college) welcomed the first students to its state-of-the-art building in September and last night it took the opportunity to show off the campus to the town’s business community for the first time.

The partnership evening, sponsored by accountants Monahans’ Swindon office, was attended by South Swindon MP Mr Buckland, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, who is also small business ambassador for the Conservative Party, and representatives of the 80-plus business sponsors and partners.

Welcoming the guests, Monahans managing partner Mike Shawyer said his firm had been in Swindon for 80 years and had advised many of Swindon’s historic engineering firms.

He was now looking forward to doing the same for the businesses that will be started by young entrepreneurs after they leave the UTC.

UTC principal Angela Barker-Dench said launching the college from an initial idea to a fully-functioning building had been an amazing journey which would not have been possible without the support of Swindon Borough Council and the town’s business community.

Speaking in the college’s main hall, which opened just 10 days ago, she said in two years’ time the UTC would be sending its first students out into the world of work with the right skills for the modern workplace.

The college, based in part of what was once Swindon’s Great Western Railway works, has been sponsored by Oxford Brookes University and its head of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Gareth Neighbour told the event: “Three years ago we had a blank sheet of paper. Now we have this wonderful building.”

And Paul Holmes of Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, the lead business sponsor, said he was impressed at the way the project had come together and received the support of the town’s major businesses.

Mr Tomlinson urged more businesses to get involved in the UTC and support its students as they make their way through the college. “Give them the opportunity and they will pay you back tenfold,” he said.

Mr Buckland said: “We are at the heart of what made Swindon great. This is the bedrock of our town’s heritage but now it will be the bedrock of its future.

“It’s an incredible space, a beautiful building and a wonderful addition to the town. It epitomises the spirit of Swindon – the coming together to make things happen. We are a ‘can do’ town.”

The old school building and iconic water tower on the Bristol Street site – both grade II listed – have been incorporated into the campus.

The UTC will cater for 600 students aged 14 to 19 who are interested in a career in engineering.
The campus includes workshops with machinery such as lathes and electrical testing equipment alongside classrooms.

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