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.

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.

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. Picture: Karl Andre Photography.


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.

The new Spencer Group apprentices with Managing Director Gary Thornton outside the company’s head office on Hull Marina. Picture: Karl Andre Photography.


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.”

Siemens Mobility apprentices Megan Turner, left, and Kate Rodley, with Director of Localisation, Finbarr Dowling. The new recruits have both joined from Ron Dearing UTC. Picture: Sean Spencer, Hull News & Pictures.


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.”

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.”

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


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 click here.

Apprentices with the world at their feet

They were given the platform to succeed at Ron Dearing UTC, now these are among the apprentices embarking on exciting careers with some of the region’s biggest employers.

Josh Fry, 18, a software engineering apprentice at KCOM: “This is a dream come true for me because KCOM is where I’ve wanted to be since I joined Ron Dearing UTC. It’s perfect and I’m so pleased I can start work straight away.

“Ron Dearing UTC’s connections with KCOM and the courses the school offers linked to coding set me up with the skills and knowledge I needed for this opportunity.”

Josh Peck, 18, a research and development (R&D) apprentice at RB: “After just a week of work experience at RB, I knew I wanted to work for them. Ron Dearing has given me the support, advice and experience I needed to get here.”

Kate Rodley, 18, a rail technician apprentice with Siemens Mobility: “I’m thrilled to start my career here. The apprenticeship offers travel opportunities too, which is really exciting.

“Ron Dearing UTC helped me to get this apprenticeship and reach out to Siemens. They push you to be the best you can be.”

Tom Dubej, 18, an engineering apprentice at Spencer Group: “This is big opportunity for me and I’m embracing it. The support I received at Ron Dearing UTC was great and I’m very proud to be here now. I’ve always wanted to go into engineering and this apprenticeship is a perfect fit for me.”