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First 16 special colleges announced by Estelle Morris

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Estelle MorrisEducation and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris yesterday signalled a step forward in the drive to boost skills by announcing the locations of the first 16 Centres of Vocational Excellence ‘new centres in colleges with a focus on meeting employers’ skills needs in subjects as diverse as computing, construction, catering and childcare.

Announcing further details of the strategy for putting colleges in the forefront of the drive for skills, Ms Morris said:

“These new specialist Centres will provide us with the skills we need to prosper in the knowledge economy. Specialist status has helped to drive up standards in schools with real improvements being delivered. Now Centres of Vocational Excellence will help provide the skills that businesses so desperately need.

“There is a strong focus now on boosting the nation’s skills and we are committed to providing young people and adults with the best possible vocational education. We have introduced vocational GCSEs and A levels, modern apprenticeships, and Foundation Degrees. We have shown our commitment to raising standards with our aim of supporting half of all colleges to develop a Centre of Vocational Excellence by 2003-4 ‘ a full year ahead of the original schedule – building on the substantial progress that has been made by specialist schools.

“We have provided £100 million of backing over the next three years to help transform colleges into local, regional or national centres of excellence. We are looking to businesses to work with them to provide extra resources, direct support and involvement from specific sectors. National Training Organisations, the CBI and others have worked closely with the Learning and Skills Council to get this off the ground.

“The new centres recognise the need to provide the best both for their students and for industry. In doing so, they play an essential economic role while giving individuals the skills they need to enable them to find work in a fast-changing jobs market. The pathfinders, which I have announced today will start work in September, and will inspire and support the development of further centres. Colleges will be invited to propose further centres by December. The network will start in earnest next April.”

The full list of the first Pathfinder Centres and their specialist areas, is:

  • Accrington and Rossendale College – Construction
  • South Tyneside College – Nautical Science and Marine Engineering
  • Bradford College – Applied Science
  • The Arts Institute at Bournemouth – Lens Based Media
  • Bishop Burton College – Agriculture
  • Sparsholt College – Game, Wildlife and Country Management and Fishery Studies
  • Birmingham College of Food Tourism and Creative Studies – Hospitality and Catering
  • South East Essex – Media Technology
  • Tameside College – Mechanical & Electrical Engineering
  • Warwickshire College – General Engineering,
  • Lewisham College – Computing
  • Barking & Havering Colleges with FORD – Auto Engineering and Mechanical Production
  • South Birmingham College – Childcare
  • Richmond Adult & Community College – Business and IT
  • Lancaster & Morecambe College – Hospitality and Catering
  • Leeds College of Technology – Printing

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