THE principal of a new specialist engineering school says paving the way for students to secure jobs with industry leaders is a priority.
Ciaran O’Dowda has been chosen to lead Portsmouth’s first University Technical College once it opens its doors to its first wave of pupils in September next year.
There’s a really worrying shortage of young people going into electrical and mechanical engineering and manufacturing. And this is why we have so got such great commitment from local businesses.Ciaran O’Dowda
The £11m hub wants to equip teenagers aged 14 to 19 gain with qualifications fit for careers in electrical and mechanical engineering, and advanced manufacturing.
A total of 175 places to study from September 2017 are up for grabs in years 10 and 12.
And Mr O’Dowda – currently the headteacher of Stubbington’s Crofton School – says it’s an exciting opportunity to be part of something special.
Speaking to The News, Mr O’Dowda said: ‘The primary goal is motivated by some keenness from local businesses.
‘There’s a really worrying shortage of young people going into electrical and mechanical engineering and manufacturing.
‘And this is why we have so got such great commitment from local businesses.
‘We are talking about giants of industry, like the Royal Navy and QinetiQ, and various others.
‘The aim is to educate these youngsters so they are going straight into meaningful careers and higher education.
‘It’s a priority and it’s something I’m hugely excited about.
‘It offers the young people of the Portsmouth area an opportunity they haven’t had before.’
Mr O’Dowda will leave his post at Crofton – where he has been for 10 years – at Christmas before taking up his new role at UTC Portsmouth in the new year.
The school is being built on the site of the Trafalgar School, in Hilsea.
The UTC curriculum will be drawn up with the help of businesses including the Royal Navy and BAE Systems.
Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing enterprise Land Rover BAR has already said its America’s Cup challenge has created an ‘exciting opportunity’ for more teenagers to pursue science and technology-based subjects.
Mr O’Dowda anticipates every vacancy will be filled and the college will be oversubscribed ahead of its first term.
To apply for Year 10 places, go to portsmouth.gov.uk/schooladmissions.
Apply at atutcportsmouth.org for Year 12.