A DURHAM college has been recognised as a centre of excellent vocational training by a national body.

New College Durham is one of only 69 further education colleges to have been named as a Centre of Vocational Excellence (Cove), by the Learning and Skills Council.

The council considered applications from 370 colleges nationwide for the title, and chose those which best matched the priority skills required in their local areas, regions and the country as a whole.

The £100m Cove programme is part of a national initiative to improve vocational skills development through the establishment of a co-ordinated network of quality training provision.

New College Durham based its application on travel and tourism training and will build on this to provide training, skills development and qualifications that meet the needs of employers.

John Widdowson, college principal and chief executive, said: "The Cove programme will become the cornerstone for developing a modern further education sector.

"Our success in securing Cove status for travel and tourism services will allow us to continue to play our part in developing the skills of a local and regional workforce.

"We are highly delighted at the news of our success."

As a Cove college, New College will provide a focal point for local and regional partners from the travel and tourism industry, and a contact point for national employers with local and regional branches.

Austin McNamara, executive director of County Durham Learning Skills Council, said: "I am highly delighted that a County Durham college has been recognised by receiving Cove approval.

"This is excellent news as it provides an exciting opportunity for the region as a whole."