Interview: Neill Ricketts

29th September 2016
Interview: Neill Ricketts

University Technical College (UTC) supporter and business owner, Neill Ricketts, sat down with SGS College to discuss the working relationships between UTCs and employers and what impact the UK's EU departure may have on UTCs.

Neill Ricketts

Neill, 43, is CEO of Versarien, one of the UK's newest and most exciting technology companies.

When discussing why an employer might consider working with a UTC, Neill said:

"It's an ideal opportunity for an employer to be involved with a UTC to really drive the next generation of engineers or technical people.

"By getting involved employers are getting access to those very talented learners at an early stage, being able to choose what direction they go in, being actively able to choose what they study and then hopefully selecting them to go on to full time careers."

The Engineering graduate also explained the importance of employers to a UTC:

"Employers bring great benefits to UTCs. It's all about the experience that they have in the real world. It's about taking those real world experiences and showing students exactly what it is like to work in the engineering industry. That really brings the education alive."

Talking about the challenges ahead, post Brexit, Neill said:

"The biggest challenge the country faces post Brexit is one of matching the skills needed to the opportunities that Brexit allows. The country is already desperately short of engineers and technicians but my feeling is that we will need even more. It is here that the UTCs can really help, by providing the right academic level and number of highly skilled employees to fill those gaps and enable the country to prosper. Controls on immigration may also mean that there is a shortage of the right people with the right skills needed right now."

Speaking about the potential positives that could come out of brexit Neill commented:

"There are going to be a number of key trade deals, which will be much easier to negotiate as an independent than as a collection of member states. No one really knows what opportunities are going to present themselves over the next few years or even decades. UTCs have the ability to respond quicker than other institutes to alter course as the employers are much closer to the governance.

Closing the interview, Neill said:

"UTCs play a key role in defining the next generation of appropriately trained and skilled engineers and technicians. Too often employees complain at the lack of co-ordination between academia and industry, UTCs are a way of bridging that gap and making the country work ready."

The UTC will be holding many Open Days throughout the year for anyone wanting to find out more information. The next two will be held on Saturday 1st October from 10am-1pm and Saturday 5th November from 10am-2pm at SGS Berkeley Green Campus.

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