His Royal Highness, a strong supporter of education that leads to the creation of a skilled workforce and economic success in the United Kingdom, listened to a talk from Neil Patterson, Principal Designate of the UTC entitled “Creating the right environment for education to meet business demands” before a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities for Silverstone UTC, which opens in September 2013.
Students who attend Silverstone UTC will specialise in either Business & Technical Events Management or High-performance Engineering. A number of the businesses were already signed up with the UTC to deliver “Industrial Challenges” – projects that contextualise the learning experience. These include Silverstone Circuits and Grandstand Group for Business & Technical Events Management. High-performance Engineering companies Sahara Force India, Festo, Flybrid and Mahle Powertrain were also on board. Industry leaders from both specialisms were represented at the lunch.
During the discussion, Gary Wyles, MD of Festo, outlined the challenge faced by industry: “Festo GB could lose as many as 300 man years of highly specialised experience through retirement in the next five years, and those skills are not readily available in the market. It is therefore vital that we ‘grow our own’ specialists for the future. As an SME in Northampton we cannot do it alone but we see a great opportunity to make it possible by working with Silverstone UTC.”
Helena Pettit, MD of Horse of the Year Show organisers, Grandstand Group, said of her industry, “Event Management is utilised by every business to engage customers and employees. The industry generates in excess of £3billion for the UK economy and directly employs 145,000 people. We recognise the value that the Silverstone UTC will bring in training students that will have the ability to enter the events industry with the practical knowledge to deliver immediately.”
Over the course of the discussion about the skills gap that exists, pledges of support were forthcoming from Aston Martin’s CEO, Ulrich Bez. Also present, Caterham F1 boss, Mike Gascoyne, said, “Caterham recognise that we need to invest in young engineers and we are taking that seriously by supporting Silverstone UTC.”
The Silverstone UTC building has passed the half-way point in its construction, and is on target for completion in August. The brand new, multi-million pound centre of excellence has been given an inspiring location, overlooking the National Pit Straight at the Silverstone Circuit, on land gifted by the BRDC.
The Duke of York, speaking after the lunch, said, “Placing a UTC at the heart of the motorsport industry cluster at Silverstone Circuit is inspired, and hopefully will inspire young people to aspire for a career in the motorsport and event management sectors.”
Principal Designate of Silverstone UTC, Neil Patterson said, “I am very grateful to His Royal Highness for lending his support to Silverstone UTC, a flagship for the UTC movement. Today we have secured new commitments from prestigious employers such as Aston Martin, Caterham F1 and McLaren. This strengthens our ability to lead in the provision of best in class education for our students, meeting the needs of the region’s employers.”