Work on a multimillion pound college, designed to give 14- to 19-year-olds the skills key City Region industries need, could be underway by the summer.
The new University Technical College will be built on the Porterbrook site, close to Sheffield Station and behind Radio Sheffield, which is currently used as a car park.
When it is completed next year, the 60,000 sq ft college will also incorporate Sydney Works a former silversmiths on Matilda Street, latterly used as a recording studio, which is being refurbished as part of the development.
Students will follow a curriculum leading to GCSEs and A Levels, in addition to diplomas in either engineering and manufacturing or creative and digital skills.
In order to pack all that learning in, students will be expected to study from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm for 40, rather than the traditional 38 weeks a year, allowing them to learn what would take a normal school five years to teach in just four.
When it is fully up and running, the college will have around 400 engineering and manufacturing students and a further 200 gaining creative and digital skills.
Businesses across the region are being urged to help educationalists develop a curriculum which includes between one and a half and two and a half days a week of hands-on experience, solving real-life business problems.
Andrew Cropley, the executive director of Sheffield College, who is spearheading the development, says students will emerge with ‘great qualifications and be good at what employers want them to be good at’.
But the college, which has already secured £1 million towards equipping a range of facilities, including workshops, mini-factories, CNC machining and prototyping facilities, media and design studios, production laboratories and a computing suite, needs further backing and sponsorship from the business community.
Companies are also being asked to host visits and master classes and join an employers’ reference group, designed to ensure that the UTC lives up to its aspirations of educating students for employment.