Official Press Release:

Lord Baker, the mastermind behind University Technical Colleges, has visited the MINI Plant in a bid to encourage more local businesses to get behind the scheme.

Oxfordshire UTC, based in Didcot, is set to open in September 2015 specialising in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. The college is being backed by industrial supporters, including MINI Plant Oxford, as well as Reading and Royal Holloway Universities.

The technical college is aimed at ensuring that young people gain specialist skills and knowledge relevant for today’s high-tech industries and where they can study in a professional environment to help them prepare for the a career in business and industry.

Lord Baker and the UTC’s new principal, Owain Johns, were shown around the MINI Plant’s training school.

Lord Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said: “This is an impressive example of industry working closely with education to provide valuable local training. This is why I am delighted that MINI Plant Oxford is a partner in the creation of the new UTC Oxfordshire.

“The UTC will offer young people across the region the chance to combine an academic education with an opportunity to learn the essential technical and practical skills needed to pursue careers in sectors like advanced engineering. There is an urgent need for these skills and I am confident that MINI Plant Oxford, and other businesses in the area, will benefit a great deal from this new source of talent.”

Plant Oxford has a long-established apprenticeship programme which lasts between three and four years and covers a wide range of skills from human resources and business to electrical maintenance and engineering. The plant currently has 119 apprentices going through the scheme.

Simon Farrall, head of apprentice and associate training at BMW Group UK, said: “Investment in young people is a key part of our development strategy for the plants. We need to foster the development of talented young engineers and technicians to become the MINI employees of the future. The UTC supports this objective by providing us with a steady stream of suitable candidates.”

The Oxfordshire UTC will admit up to 600 young people aged 14 to 19 and MINI Plant Oxford will provide curriculum advice, project support and visits.

Owain Johns, the new Principal of Oxfordshire UTC, said: “We are delighted that today we could bring together Lord Baker’s wealth of experience of success and good practice in UTCs across the country and gain insight and understanding of BMW’s training expertise. We are currently in the curriculum design phase for September 2015, being able to work with one of our lead partners will mean that we can shape a curriculum that results in students who are prepared for the world of work.