Wiltshire College has been given the go-ahead for a new £3.6 million development at its Trowbridge campus.

The 2,303 square metre facility, funded by the government’s Skills Funding Agency, will replace two existing buildings on the site, and the College believes it will offer ‘state of the art’ facilities.

It will feature 12 workshops, allowing students to develop skills needed for trades such as electrics, plumbing, carpentry and brickwork.

Other facilities include a carpentry machine shop, a gas assessment centre and training facility, and three classrooms.

The news comes amidst criticism of the government’s approach to apprenticeships from entrepreneur Doug Richards, who recently called on the coalition to do more by way of improving the quality of apprenticeship schemes.

In his independent report presented to Downing Street, Mr Richard claimed that there was a need for ‘true’ apprenticeships in order to give youngsters the skills needed to attract employers.

He went on to add that industry standards should be at the heart of all apprenticeships.

Business secretary Vince Cable said he welcomed Mr Richard’s report, claiming that many in the coalition shared his views.

He said: “Doug Richard's review echoes the government's current thinking on putting employers in the driving seat of our apprenticeship programme. This will be vital to ensure the skills of our workforce fit with employer needs.”

Di Dale, principal and chief executive of Wiltshire College, believes the latest proposals at the College are a step in the right direction.

“These exciting new developments on the Trowbridge campus will enable the College to ensure it will be able to respond to and meet the training needs of our local industries and community in the future,” she said.

The final designs for the new centre are still being developed, and subject to planning permission the College will begin construction next summer, opening in time for the new term in September 2014.

The college currently takes on around 3,300 full-time students and 6,000 part-time students across four campuses in Salisbury, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Lackham.

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