Work is under way on a £9.5m upgrade of a North East college.
Northumberland College has laid the foundations for what will be a brand new state-of-the-art engineering workshop at its Ashington campus.
The workshop will house the college’s engineering and automotive courses and will be the training centre for advanced manufacturing, training the sector’s future workforce for careers in research and development, automotive and aerospace industries.
It is scheduled to be completed by this summer.
Work has also started on the ground works for a new tractor workshop and teaching and learning block at the college’s Kirkley Hall campus near Ponteland, both of which are scheduled to be completed later this year.
All works are being undertaken by infrastructure, support services and construction group Robertson, which was appointed by the college in December.
In total the investments at both sites will see over 5,000 square metres of buildings with state-of-the-art learning facilities, including engineering and construction workshops, hair and beauty salons and a restaurant open to the public at Ashington with new landscaping at both sites.
The £9.5m work at the two sites has been funded with £3m from the Skills and Funding Agency topping up £6.5m invested by the college.
Stuart Cutforth, principal and chief executive at the college, said: “We are very excited that the building has begun.
“The new facilities will greatly enhance the teaching and learning facilities for our students and local employers.
“The new engineering workshop will allow the college to provide training to meet the demands of this growing industry in our region.”
The college originally planned a £100m scheme to build modern campuses in three locations.
Building work was due to start in 2009 on a £50m campus on the former Ashington hospital site, which had secured regional Learning and Skills Council approval and outline planning permission.
However, the plans fell through after the council realised it did not have enough money to fund all projects, for which money had been sought.
Meanwhile, the college is hosting an employment and skills forum at Kirkley Hall on February 7.
The event welcomes business, community and skills leaders from across the region.
The college is the largest training provider in Northumberland with centres across the county in Ashington, Ponteland, Berwick and Hexham.
It achieved a grade two Ofsted result in March 2013 and is within the top 10 per cent of colleges in England.