Employer-led school’s latest partnership prepares students for industry leadership

Students at Ron Dearing UTC will be given exciting new opportunities to build on their industry-level skills and ambitions after the employer-led school linked up with an innovative recruitment company.

The school has joined forces with Harper Fox Partners, which pioneers leadership and executive search solutions for the global energy, engineering, technology and manufacturing industries.

Harper Fox Partners was founded by The Apprentice 2019 finalist Scarlett Allen-Horton and Lord Sugar, who hosts the popular BBC television series, has since invested in her business.

The Apprentice finalist Scarlett Allen-Horton, whose business, Harper Fox Partners, has linked up with Ron Dearing UTC for the “From Classroom to Boardroom Alliance” initiative.


The company recognises skills shortages within the energy, technology and engineering sectors across the world and the team wants to encourage young people to pursue a career within these industries. It aims to do this by bringing “diverse talent” into these sectors, particularly females.

Ron Dearing UTC is the first educational partner Harper Fox Partners has teamed up with for its “From Classroom to Boardroom Alliance” initiative, which will inspire students to be the best they can be at the highest level while also offering mentorship and work experience opportunities, motivational talks, interview techniques, networking and more.

Scarlett, Founder and Business Director of Harper Fox Partners, which has offices in London and Birmingham, said business masterclasses, setting students various tasks and sharing some of their individual profiles as potential future leaders could also add value to working with Ron Dearing UTC students.

Work experience opportunities could also involve connecting students with some of Harper Fox Partners’ clients and potentially taking on students within the business in the future.

Scarlett said: “We’re really passionate about attracting more talent within the energy, engineering and technology sectors. We do this at leadership and board level. However, we also understand the importance of doing this at grass-roots level.

“There is, of course, a place for university education, but for these kinds of industries, the quicker you can have that mix of academia and hands-on experience with the employer, the better. Future employers are looking for that.

“Ron Dearing UTC is doing some fantastic work in the sector at the moment and offering their students exciting educational opportunities and different ways of doing things.

“They’re giving students the opportunity to fill that gap from the classroom to a working environment.

“Ron Dearing UTC is inspirational I’m extremely impressed. I’m really looking forward to working with them and visiting the school in the future.”

Harper Fox Partners was founded by The Apprentice 2019 finalist Scarlett Allen-Horton and Lord Sugar, host of the popular BBC television series, has since invested in the business.


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

Lord Sugar said: “The Harper Fox Partners From Classroom To Boardroom Alliance is a great initiative, created to help inspire the next generation of future leaders within the engineering and technology sectors.

“Having built highly-successful businesses within these industries, I am very aware of the skills deficit across the UK.

“Therefore, we are pleased to announce our alliance with Ron Dearing UTC, an outstanding educational institute based in Hull, to help bridge this gap.”

Glenn Jensen, Senior Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement and Head of Engineering at Ron Dearing UTC, said the partnership with Harper Fox was a major positive for the school and students.

He said: “It’s such a privilege to have industry specialists in these sectors who run and work with national and global companies, such as Lord Sugar and Scarlett.

“Our students have access to people who can give them information and guidance about high-level jobs and what skills and management strategies they need, to aspire to what they want to achieve.

“Scarlett also wants to inspire young women to aim high in engineering and give females a voice in leadership roles, which is fantastic.

“We’re not just preparing our students for industry – we’re preparing them to lead industry.”

Workshops and mock interviews set students up for success

Ron Dearing UTC students have been given chance to hone their communication skills and practice interview techniques to help them prepare for their future.

Almost 120 Year 13 students took part in Covid-safe mock interview workshops with Ron Dearing UTC Governor Yvonne Moir, Human Resources Director at Spencer Group, which is one of the school’s Founding Partners.

They were given top tips on how to prepare for an interview in person and online, how to respond to questions and present themselves, CV pointers, and how to stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression.

They then completed 10-minute mock online interviews with representatives from some of the school’s founding and employer partners, including KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith+Nephew and Sonoco Trident.

The students received feedback on their performance, as well as tips on how they could improve.

It comes as formal applications for apprenticeships with Ron Dearing UTC’s employer partners open next week, giving students chance to apply for the roles they’re most interested in.

Businesses send available positions and job descriptions for students to consider before applying and each student has a mentor within the school to support them through the process.

Yvonne Moir, Human Resources Director at Spencer Group, delivering the mock interview workshops.


Previous years have seen face-to-face mock interviews as well as an apprenticeship expo organised for students to meet potential employers and ask questions about the business and career opportunities in person

Virtual mock interviews had to be planned this year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The apprenticeship expo will be rescheduled until later in the academic year, restrictions permitting.

Yvonne said: “Your first impression is the second you apply. Just because you may be online, you still have to present yourself properly.

“When you apply for a job, it’s likely the employer will look you up on social media, so it is important students post appropriately and know the content is visible. That can often be a first impression.

“I encourage the students to be themselves because we want to know who we’re employing, be polite because we can teach skills but we can’t teach attitude, be on time and be interested. If they want the role, they have to show they want it.

“These are essential life skills and it isn’t just about now. All of the students responded really well and these skills will help them throughout their careers.”

Dozens of Ron Dearing UTC students secured apprenticeships with some of the region’s leading employers despite the impact of the pandemic this year.

Year 13 student Charlie Kearton completing his mock interview.


With other school leavers gaining places at university, securing employment or going into the Armed Forces, almost all Year 13 student who left the employer-led school this summer moved onto a positive destination.

Kathy Robson, Senior Assistant Principal for Student Destinations and Joint Head of Sixth Form, said: “The guidance and support our students receive is so important and it is vital we teach them these interview and communication skills, so they understand it is a competitive jobs market.

“Organising workshops and mock interviews gives our students the edge. We want to give them every opportunity and chance to succeed.”

The school’s Founding Partners, Major Partners, Partners and other local businesses can hand-pick their apprentices based on who they believe will fit into their teams perfectly.

Year 13 student Charlie Kearton, 18, is studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Single Computing, and hopes to study Computer Science at university before becoming a software developer and engineer in the future.

Charlie said: “The workshop was really good and very informative about how first impressions don’t just start with walking into a room, but with sending off your CV.

“It’s a great strength of the UTC that we learn these skills. It helps us to be much more prepared for the world of work.”