Newton Abbot’s STEM school urges students to ‘look beyond’ traditional career paths

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2020)

Newton Abbot’s pioneering secondary school for young people with a flair for science and engineering is backing the ‘Look Beyond’ campaign this National Apprenticeship Week (3-9 February) to inspire and excite the next generation to look beyond traditional routes of employment.

South Devon University Technical College (UTC) is getting behind the national awareness week by hosting a special Work Ready Day on Tuesday 4th February in partnership with leading South West employers to encourage students to consider apprenticeships.

National Apprenticeship Week, now in its 13th year, highlights the fantastic benefits of apprenticeships to employers, individuals, local communities and the economy. This year’s theme, ‘Look Beyond’, aims to encourage students to look beyond traditional routes into employment, calls for employers to look beyond traditional hiring routes and asks for parents and teachers to understand the true value that apprenticeships bring and relaying this to young people.

Students at the Kingsteignton Road college will have the opportunity to meet current apprentices who are working for a range of local employers including the Environment Agency, Wales and West Utilities and South West Water, meet potential apprentice employers and attend a series of workshops designed to help students make the right choice when it comes to choosing an option post-college.

For employers, South Devon UTC will kick-start the Work Ready Day by hosting its first Business Breakfast of the year. Open to all businesses, this free networking event will run from 7:30 am to 9:00 am. Professionals will have the opportunity to connect with engineers, environmentalists and scientists of the future, enjoy a continental breakfast, look around the college’s state-of-the-art facilities and can find out more about the benefits of the college’s employer partnership programme. Attendees should call the college on 01626 240201 to register their interest.

The remainder of the day will be packed full of workshops and activities based around apprenticeships. Interview and leadership skills workshops will be led by Heart of the South West, Royal Navy and Valeport. Young people interested in a career in STEM will have the opportunity to perfect their interview skills with some of the South West’s leading employers, giving them the best chance of securing an apprenticeship after leaving South Devon UTC.

Claire Plumb, Principal at South Devon UTC, commented: “Over 50% of post-16 leavers from South Devon UTC go on to start apprenticeships with the remaining planning to study at University or join the military. We love the ‘Look Beyond’ theme this year. There are so many misconceptions about apprenticeships with many young people being led to believe that University is the only path you can take if you want to be successful in your career. The awareness week gives us a great opportunity to disprove this belief, highlighting just how valuable apprenticeships are to our students and potential employers.”

Towards the end of the day, students will be invited to hear from South Devon UTC alumni who have gone on to apprenticeships and University.

After leaving South Devon UTC with Distinction*’s in BTEC Level 3 Engineering and A Level Physics, Jemima May is now an Electrical and Instrumentation Apprentice at Wales and West Utilities. Out of 1,500 applicants, she was the only Electrical and Instrumentation apprentice selected.

Jemima, 19, commented: “I can’t believe that I’m an Electrical and Instrumentation Apprentice at Wales and West Utilities. It’s so surreal! I have always been interested in electrical engineering ever since I was a kid. I and my Dad used to work on cars together and this really piqued my interest in wanting to fix things. Currently studying one day a week alongside my apprenticeship, I aspire to be a Senior Network Technician and possibly a Manager.”

Harry Durant is now on a Degree Level Apprenticeship with Cyclerval UK, part of Dalkiawastenergy, after leaving South Devon UTC in 2019. Rod Jakeman, Plant Manager at Cyclerval, recalls how Harry really stood out from the crowd.

Rod commented: “When Harry came in for his interview, he was prompt, dressed smartly and had obviously looked into the company which demonstrated that he was serious about joining us as an apprentice. Having previously attended South Devon UTC, this showed me a desire for engineering. Shortlisted out of 50 candidates to just four applicants, Harry produced a presentation for his second interview. No one else did. Harry has fitted in just fine here. He continues to show commitment and is doing well.”

South Devon UTC works with some of the region’s leading employers to design a curriculum for 14-19-year-olds which will equip students with the skills and experience needed to progress in their chosen careers. These employer partners also provide Challenge Projects, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities. Both South West Water and MB Aerospace, an international group providing complex engineering solutions to the Aerospace and Defence market, are facilitating access to apprenticeships to South Devon UTC students every year.

The college is currently recruiting students for the 2020/21 academic year. Young people with a flair for science and engineering due to start Year 10 and Year 12 in September 2020 are invited to the next Open Evening on Thursday 6th February 2020, 5 pm-7 pm. Alternatively, you can contact the college for more information. Call 01626 240201 or visit

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