LORD Kenneth Baker labelled Warrington’s new University Technical College the ‘future of education’ on a visit to the Dallam Lane construction site yesterday.

Building work on the £10m University Technical College is well underway and on Tuesday November 17 the site was visited by Lord Baker, who co-founded the Baker Dearing Trust which sets the up colleges that offer vocation education for 14-19 year olds.

The college, part of the £190m Stadium Quarter regeneration, will open in September 2016 and will offer specialist education in engineering and energy.

Visiting the site on Tuesday, Lord Baker said: “This is the future of education.

“The problem we’ve got at the moment is that because there’s been a focus on academic subjects we’ve got graduate unemployment on a big scale now.

“I very strongly believe that people learn with their hands as well as their brains – there’s no question about that and that’s what made us prosperous in the 19th century.

“The University Technical College has been supported by the local MPs and also by the council – the council has given us the land.”

The college will offer 620 places to teenagers in Warrington and will boast links to partner companies in the nuclear, engineering and robotics industries.

Lord Baker added: “I think local students will see that there’s a unique offering – the thing I’m most proud of about University Technical Colleges is that we make the youngsters ready for work when they leave us.

“It’s because of the hands on practical learning we do – two days of the week is doing things with your hands and working on projects and the other three days is the academic subjects.

“You’re mixing the brain and the hands and that’s the essence of a University Technical College.

“Our target is that when students get to 16 or 18 they should not join the ranks of the unemployed, they should not have to get jobseekers allowance.

“We’ve had about 1700 students leaving University Technical Colleges this summer and out of them 99 per cent have got work because they’re ready for work.

“I always say to youngsters when they join the UTC that they’re starting their working life – they’re starting their career by coming to this college.

“They’re treated as adults, there’s very little disruption or difficulties because the youngsters are learning something practical that they know is going to help them get a job.”

Cllr Terry O’ Neill, leader of Warrington Borough Council, believes that the college will be crucial for some of the town’s key industries.

He said: “There’s been a massive push towards academia however I think this will be hands on and a different way of learning.

“Unfortunately for me engineering has become a dirty word over the last 20 or 30 years but there’s a good career path for young people in engineering and a well-paid job so it’s essential that we get out and encourage the young people to come to the UTC were they can get a proper apprenticeship.

“We’ve got a massive nuclear sector in the town – over 5000 people are employed in the nuclear industry – we’ve got a cluster of engineering companies like Rolls Royce and Amec at Birchwood and they’ve got an ageing workforce, so they need young people to train into that subject and that’s what this UTC is about.”