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Go-ahead for ADP's £11m Oxfordshire technical college

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ADP has won planning for a University Technical College (UTC) in Didcot, Oxfordshire, as the government announced seven more colleges will be set up across the UK

The £11million scheme, which is due to complete in September 2015, will specialise in life sciences, physical sciences, and advanced engineering for students aged 14 to 17.

Last week, the government announced that seven new UTCs will be established across the UK – in Bromley, Crewe, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield, Durham, and Solihull.

The plans will bring the total number of UTCs across England to 57 by 2016. There are currently 17 UTCs open, with another 33 approved.

UTCs are being touted as one solution to high levels of youth unemployment in the UK and a growing skills shortage facing many industries, in particular, the built environment.

According to Kenneth Baker, chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, UTCs could also be the first step to reforming - or at least diversifying - architectural training to build greater resilience into the profession.

He said: ‘UTCs are now an established and growing part of the education system. Developing and nurturing an ambitious and capable future workforce is vital to the success of our economy. UTCs make sense and work for employers, universities and, most importantly, young people.’

Last month, Baker told the AJ he wants to open 500 UTCs by 2020.

So far, four UTCs specialise in the built environment. Buckinghamshire UTC is backed by Taylor Wimpey and focuses on housebuilding while the Laing O’Rourke sponsored Greater Manchester UTC, due to open in Oldham in September, will focus on structural engineering.

However the announcement comes just weeks after it was revealed that one of the government’s flagship University Technical Colleges (UTC), which boasts buildings by AJ Women in Architecture Award-winners Walters and Cohen, is set to close due to low pupil numbers.

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