Ron Dearing UTC students secure prized apprenticeships despite Covid-19 pandemic

Dozens of students from Hull’s employer-led school have secured sought-after apprenticeships with some of the region’s leading employers despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Siemens Mobility apprentices
Megan Turner, left, and Kate Rodley, who have joined Siemens Mobility as apprentices after leaving Ron Dearing UTC.
Picture: Sean Spencer, Hull News & Pictures.

With other school leavers gaining places at university, securing employment or going into the Armed Forces, it means almost all Year 13 students who left Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) this summer have moved onto a positive destination.

Twenty-five former sixth form students have now begun apprenticeship programmes at eight different businesses after completing their A-level and technical qualifications, with some chosen for the opportunities over hundreds of other applicants.

Their apprenticeships vary from rail technician to web developer, software engineer, IT support, research and development, laboratory technician and more. 

As well as the Year 13 students, a further 11 learners from Year 11 have also secured apprenticeships with local employers.

Digital technology, communications and IT services provider KCOM, which is also a Founding Partner of Ron Dearing UTC, has taken on three apprentices from the school with the students chosen from 500 applicants for 10 positions.

Two other Founding Partners, RB, the world’s foremost consumer health and hygiene company, and Spencer Group, one of the UK’s leading privately-owned engineering businesses, have taken on two and five apprentices respectively. The Spencer Group apprenticeship recruitment builds on last year’s intake of 14.

Siemens Mobility has taken on two apprentices to be among the first 700 employees at its pioneering rail manufacturing facility in Goole, which is due to open in 2023. Siemens Mobility is the sister company of Ron Dearing UTC Founding Partner Siemens Gamesa.

Ron Dearing UTC Major Partner Sonoco Trident, the world’s fastest-growing and most innovative digital brand management business, has taken on two apprentices.

Meanwhile, Major Partner Arco, the UK’s principal safety company, and global energy business BP have each taken on one apprentice, while Pure Renewables, which designs, specifies and installs renewable heating systems, has also hired a Ron Dearing UTC student for an apprenticeship.

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said she was delighted so many students had secured apprenticeships leading them on the path to exciting, fulfilling and rewarding careers.

She said: “This has been an enormously difficult year. We know how tough it has been for many businesses, employees and students, with job losses and the reduction in training programmes due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“In these circumstances it’s remarkable that so many of our sixth form leavers have moved on to fantastic apprenticeships with world-class businesses.

“Our students have worked so hard for these opportunities and have overcome the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis. They deserve every success and I’m so proud of them.

“We’re so grateful for the continued support of our employer partners and other local businesses for giving our students these life-changing opportunities to progress towards wonderfully bright futures. It demonstrates their continued confidence in our school and the talent we produce.”

Ron Dearing UTC in Hull city centre caters for students aged between 14 and 19 and has a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering. The school was rated “Outstanding” across the board by Ofsted in its first inspection earlier this year,

Tim Shaw, Managing Director, KCOM Wholesale and Networks, said: “I know how excited the team are to have the apprentices join the business. Many people within KCOM were apprentices themselves and it makes such a difference to the organisation to come through the business on a similar journey to them.”

Spencer Group apprentices.
Former Ron Dearing UTC students, from left, Tom Dubej, Oliver Walkington, Charlie Hutty, Corben Spencer and Olly Kneeshaw with Gary Thornton, Managing Director of their new employer, Spencer Group. Karle Andre photography.

Gary Thornton, Managing Director at Spencer Group, said: “In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and at a time when employment is very tough to secure, it’s a great privilege to be part of a business that can give these young people this opportunity and put them on the first step to success.

“Preparing people for work is one of the great successes we have seen at Ron Dearing UTC.”

Candice Monge, R&D Associate at RB, said: “Ron Dearing UTC offer their students great experience and business acumen, and their partnership with organisations like ours sets them apart.”

Finbarr Dowling, Director of Localisation for Siemens Mobility Limited, is a former Ron Dearing UTC Governor and played a key role, together with Patron Alan Johnson and Chair of Governors, Charlie Spencer OBE, in establishing the school.

He said: “I couldn’t be prouder that the first intake of apprentices for our Goole rail manufacturing facility includes two students from Ron Dearing UTC. Their appointment as among our first apprentices testifies to the fantastic talent that Ron Dearing UTC develops.”

As well as the apprenticeship successes, 28 Year 13 students have secured university places, six of them with the elite Russell Group of universities. 

Sarah Pashley added: “We’re equally delighted that so many of our sixth form leavers have now gone on to their chosen universities.

“This shows how our curriculum offers a unique combination of technical and academic learning and enables our students to progress either directly to the workplace or onto higher education for further study and future career opportunities.”

  • Ron Dearing UTC is now recruiting for places available in Years 10 and 12 in September 2021, with the first Open Event of the academic year on Thursday October 8. For further information and to apply to join the school go to

[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]