Duke of York urges pupils to become leaders on visit to JCB Academy in Rocester
ENGINEERS of the future were given the royal seal of approval after the Duke of York visited their trailblazing academy.
And Prince Andrew said institutes such as the JCB Academy in Rocester are 'taking education by the scruff of the neck' following his tour of the £22 million facility.
The 52-year-old chatted to staff and students during yesterday's visit as he was shown the venue's state-of-the-art computer facilities and its hands-on workshops.
He said: "By recognising places like the JCB Academy we can get the message out – there is an option for young people to learn in a challenging environment.
"We are looking for innovative, flexible, well-educated and technically skilled people who can grow the prosperity of this country.
"You are being given an opportunity to learn teamwork and leadership. Make the most of these challenges because that's what is going to make you a leader not just in industry but in the country and society.
"This is taking education by the scruff of the neck and giving it a shake and developing something fantastic."
The JCB-sponsored school opened in September 2010.
It caters for 14 to 19-year-olds who want to specialise in engineering and business.
During yesterday's trip, Prince Andrew was shown the state-of-the-art computer-aided design suites as well as the manufacturing centre where students use laser cutters to produce their pieces.
Jim Wade, the academy's principal, said: "It is a real pleasure and honour to show the Duke of York what we are achieving at the academy.
"He is a real supporter of technical and vocational training for young people and is keen to see the development of schools like the JCB Academy, which are giving young people the opportunities to develop the skills and intellectual capacity to help UK plc compete in the global economy."
Prince Andrew also presented certificates and plates to the academy's industry partners which include Rolls-Royce, Toyota, National Grid, Bentley and Bosch Rexroth.
Former students returned to the academy to talk about their experiences with the royal visitor.
William Wainwright, aged 18, of Werrington, who now works in the manufacturing department at JCB's Compact Products plant in Cheadle, said: "It was a real honour to meet a member of the royal family.
"I have always been interested in engineering and I really love my job."
Before leaving the academy in Rocester, Prince Andrew was also presented with a scale model of an Archimedes' Screw – a device which provides electricity at the academy.
JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford said: "This has been good for the academy and Prince Andrew was very aware of our role and the roles played by academies up and down the country.
"We are able to prepare young people and make them ready for industry."