Wigan’s university technical college aims to plug a huge NHS skills gap when it launches a pioneering new health and care academy.
The UTC will take on pupils aged 14 and 16 from September for in-depth, practical courses setting them on track for careers in hospitals, care homes and social work.
Young Wiganers are now being recruited and will spend 40 per cent of the curriculum working on specialist health and care qualifications as well as continuing to learn all the core subjects.
The institution, which until now has focused on engineering and food processing, has been under-used in recent years and bosses have been looking to expand its appeal
They are excited about the new development which will be a mirror image of a highly-successful care academy run at Liverpool UTC by the Northern Schools Trust which is now in charge at the Parson’s Walk facility.
Wigan UTC Academy chair Martin Ainscough said: “Since opening we have struggled to recruit sufficient students to fill the college with its specialism in engineering and food technology.
“Therefore, with additional expertise and investment from the Trust and the Government and the expansion into the health and care academy I’m very confident of Wigan UTC’s long-term success.
“There’s a national shortage in care and hopefully this will help fill the gap and provide young people with employer-led education leading onto jobs, apprenticeships or further education.
“Health and care is a massive industry and we’re tailoring these courses to what providers say they need.”
The UTC hopes to get young Wiganers ready for careers including midwifery, nursing, paramedic work, physiotherapy, nursery nursing and care assistance for elderly and disabled people.
Part of the academy’s building is being transformed into a mock hospital ward where students will get hands-on experience of a realistic health setting, complete with life-like high-tech dummy patients.
The courses will also include work experience at care providers in the borough, with both Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) hospital trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust giving full backing to the new academy.
The academy has also attracted political backing, with Leigh MP and Labour candidate for Greater Manchester’s elected mayor Andy Burnham giving his approval.
A launch evening to tell prospective pupils and their families about the new offer is being held later this month and dozens of NHS providers from across Greater Manchester will descend on Wigan for another lavish event in the summer.
Bridgewater deputy CEO Christine Samosa said: “Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with Wigan UTC to encourage youngsters to consider a career in health and social care and to support the investment in our workforce of the future.
“The partnership will allow the Trust to help shape the development of health and social care training in Wigan to ensure that youngsters are fully aware of the complexities and rewards that a career in this sector can bring and to support them to be job ready at the end of their training”
The launch evening for Wigan UTC’s health and care academy is on Tuesday March 14 from 6pm until 8pm.
For more information, visit www.wiganutc.org