A learning centre designed to teach workers new skills was opened by a Government minister yesterday.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson was at the BT depot, in Darlington Road, Northallerton, to declare the centre open for business.

The new facility is a partnership between BT and the Communication Workers' Union (CWU). From September 28, it will offer a variety of courses to union members and other workers in Northallerton.

The centre has eight computers and will be staffed by tutors from Stockton College.

John Blevins, a Northallerton town councillor and learning representative for the CWU, said: "Our aim is to educate people. You can't force people to learn, but the facilities are now here.

"It is good for the individual and it is good for business because the workforce is reskilled."

Trish Lavelle, national education and training officer for the CWU, said: "It really does offer hope to people who may have had a bad experience of education in the past."