FROM physical fitness to self belief and employability skills, young people are being offered the chance to learn from military instructors.

That's after three new Motivational Preparation College for Training colleges opened in North-East.

The three centres are located in Bishop Auckland, Newcastle and South Shields and offer young people aged 16 to 23, the chance to gain employability skills and qualifications.

The centres are ran by former Armed Forces personnel but not just for people wanting to join one of the three forces.

David Huggins, the lead instructor at the Bishop Auckland centre, based at the TA centre, said that while there is the chance to prepare for a career in the British forces, the course is available to anyone who wants to develop their fitness, vocational and employability skills.

Each college is part of a network of colleges across England and Wales and the college has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted. It was launched in 1999.

With a unique take on learning, 50 per cent of the day is spent outside while Mr Huggins said the college was one of only a handful to offer students the chance to sit GCSEs for those aged 16 to 19, if pupils missed it by one grade.

"We are one of the only training providers that do that," he said. "All our learning is based around military themes so it's not boring skills type stuff and we thrown in fun and hands-on activities."

A typical day at the centre will involve a free breakfast club at 8.15am before an official parade and kit inspection at 9am.

Employability skills will then be taught in the classroom throughout the morning before lunch.

Practical skills in the afternoon include learning how to polish boots and iron clothes while there are also opportunities to engage with the community.

Mr Huggins said: "It's great to get out into the community because they're engaging with residents who can see the difference of what they are doing and how people react to them when they are doing good things."

Physical training is always the last course for the day with two hours of fitness from 2pm.

Students are given a bib colour depending on their level of fitness and encouraged to do anything from walking to military sessions.

Students have the chance to gain a Level 2 Diploma in Employability and the roll-on roll-off course means participants can begin whenever they want and leave as soon as they have hit their goal. All students will receive a certificate after six weeks.

Mr Huggins served in the Army for 18 years and said that while the course attracts many young people who want to join the Armed Forces, the course was for anyone who wants to better themselves.

"The curriculum has been designed to have a focus on fitness, initial skills and self confidence," he said. "Many youngsters starting off with us will come out of the other end of the process fitter and beaming with confidence."

Skills instructor, Carl Russell, served for 12 years in the Army and said it was really gratifying seeing the youngsters progress.

He said: "It's just nice to help. A lot of people make assumptions when people can't find work so it's nice to be able to give people direction and to see them believe in themselves."

The course is free as long as candidates have not already completed one at a higher level and bursaries are available to help those with financial difficulties. Help is also given towards travel and food costs.

For more information visit or call 0330-1113939. You can also email or call into the centre, in St Andrew's Road, itself.