EXPANDING the range of qualifications and courses on offer to students at UTC Swindon has seen them announce a brand new digital technologies specialism.

Computing and programming have always been part of the core syllabus since the UTC opened its doors in 2014.

But now, the college hopes the new specialism, which had previously been trialled in a pilot programme, will cover all aspects of digital technologies and computer science.

Principal, Jon Oliver, said: “We have expanded our offering because we have identified a need among local employers for digital skills. As a major commercial hub, Swindon is evolving and businesses are diversifying with digital technologies becoming increasingly important.

“Therefore, digital technologies and their application are subjects that we will be teaching as we look to develop our courses in order to reflect local industry needs and provide exciting career opportunities for our students.”

The school currently offers A-level Computer Science, an extension of its previous GCSE provision, as well as BTEC in Information Technology.

But soon, UTC will also be increasing its range of Microsoft Windows Office qualifications as well as other practical qualifications that apply in the workplace and other more digitally oriented courses.

Since opening its door almost four years ago, UTC has increased its partnerships with companies such as BMW, Rolls-Royce, Patheon and the Royal Navy to help equip teenagers, aged 14-19, with the necessary skills for the engineering industry.

Now, UTC Swindon hope this new digital transformationwill help fill a gap in the market especially as a study released by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that three in four UK businesses have reported a digital skills shortage among their employees, despite 84 per cent of firms admitting that digital and IT skills are more important to their enterprise now than two years ago

Jon added: “Digital technology is an integral part of our work and home life. Therefore programming, computing and using software for a whole range of different requirements, have become essential and much sought-after skills.

“There is an increasing need for businesses to recruit highly skilled young people.

“Where digital is concerned, many organisations struggle to recruit the appropriate staff so there is an opportunity in the area for young people to positively progress their careers in this direction. Also with Brexit on the horizon, it is really important that we invest and develop these skills at a grass roots level and encourage young people to study these subjects.”

To help parents and students find out more about the new specialism, UTC Swindon is hosting an open event on Wednesday, January 31 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.