On 8th July 2013 The Duke made two visits to innovative schools in the West Midlands to support their efforts to tackle youth unemployment in the region by providing a technical, career orientated, education with outstanding access to work experience and career guidance.
HRH first visited Black Country University Technical College (BCUTC), which was one of the first UTCs to open, in September 2011. BCUTC takes students from 14-19 and also provides adult learning. As with all UTCs they are sponsored by a University or college, in this case Walsall College and the University of Wolverhampton, and closely linked with local employers including Siemens.
The Duke received a briefing from college leadership and sponsoring organisations, hearing about the great success at World Skills and Young Enterprise, and about the programme of building work to expand and improve its facilities that is about to begin.
HRH was given a tour, meeting students and teachers from the engineering and science departments, seeing students demonstrate the great facilities on offer and meeting people involved in extra-curricular projects including the College’s own Super Bike Team.
Lord Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust then addressed an assembly of supporters of the college, students and teachers from nearby schools to launch The Duke of York Award for Technical Education.
Addressing the group, The Duke said “The purpose of these awards is simple: young people need recognition of their achievements. I’m a great believer in the UTC system as it tries to encourage the application of education toward leading a fulfilling life, and this needs recognition.”
Speaking after the visit, Jase Ball, a Year 11 student at BCUTC, said:
“Our visit from the Duke of York is an achievement as the Black Country UTC and students are being recognised and deservedly praised for their hard work and achievements regarding the engineering qualifications.
“The Duke of York Award is a great acknowledgement for yourself and future employers of what you’ve achieved with regards to the engineering qualifications. It helps support the knowledge you have gained and also showcase it. I see the award as an incentive and reward for our hard work.”
Chris Hilton, Principal of BCUTC said:
“The visit by HRH The Duke of York has really raised the profile of the Black Country University Technical College. Our students, staff, parents and business community were inspired by hearing His Royal Highness speak. The students have found the Duke of York Award scheme highly motivating, thus inspiring them to work even harder to gain their qualifications.”