Work has officially begun on a new £10million University Technical College.
Sponsored by the University of Sunderland, the college will teach Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and advanced manufacturing to youngsters, aged 14 to 19.
Among those attending the turf-cutting ceremony at the Newton Aycliffe site, were Shirley Atkinson, vice-chancellor at the University of Sunderland.
She said: “University of Sunderland is sponsoring UTC South Durham because we’re committed to education and because we have a civic role to support regional economic growth.
“The purpose of the UTC is very simple: to meet the challenges of the future we need many more talented young people trained and prepared for working in the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector.
“With the impressive Hitachi Rail Europe plant and over 200 advanced manufacturing businesses right on the doorstep, our new UTC is ideally placed for students to directly connect with businesses from day one, explore careers in these industries and set themselves up for their futures.”
Applications are open now for students interested in high-tech careers, for entry into Years 10 and 12, when the new UTC opens in September 2016.
Tom Dower, principal designate of UTC South Durham, added: “I’m thrilled to see work on the new school under way.
“UTC South Durham will specialise in advanced manufacturing and engineering, sectors vital to the future of the region and ones that we have marked skills gaps in.
“Applications are open now and we have already had young people sign up to start with us in Years 10 and 12, when we open next September.”
Also, there were representatives from appointed construction contractors Willmott Dixon, project managers Mott MacDonald and Ryder Architecture, whose design for UTC South Durham reflects the engineering focus of its curriculum. The new school will feature a triple-height atrium, capable of housing large scale work or machinery.