A NORTH East college has secured £600,000 for two training centres aimed at helping people to upskill.

Darlington College was given the funding to develop a business hub for professional qualifications and a hi-tech training centre for the advanced manufacturing and automation/robotics sector.

Curriculum manager for professional qualifications Sam Eason said: “This is perfect timing for the college when the country is struggling to find skilled labour and the Government is moving six main departments to Darlington, including the Treasury.

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“We will be offering professional qualification right across the chartered institutes, from level 2 to level 7 masters, in accountancy, procurement, management, project management and HR. It will be industry specific and the centres will transform how we work with companies and public sector organisations.”

She said adults would be provided with a professional environment away from younger students, while senior business figures would benefit from being able to discuss their training requirements in a professional business centre.

Alan Jones, curriculum manager for engineering, design, automotive and the arts, added: "Automation has been identified as a huge growth area – robotics are becoming the norm – as costs come down putting machines within reach of small and medium sized enterprises. By next September we will have a fully operational robotics lab, complete with a production line, where students can learn how to programme, adapt, maintain and repair the latest robots which are being employed on the most repetitive production tasks. Students can still learn the basic skills of engineering, such as hand-tool skills, but also futureproof their careers by developing a host of digital and technical skills including coding, science and materials.”

Funding was from the Strategic Development Fund.

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