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College gears up to run car academy

College partnership with Toyota offers model for FE future.

Joe Clancy reports.

A college will have a key role in the future of the motor industry when it opens a pound;10 million training centre for car giant Toyota.Broxtowe college in Nottingham will own and run the Toyota academy, where 350 apprentices will train alongside 600 students aged 14 to 19 who want to work in motor engineering.

Cash for the academy will be provided by the Learning and Skills Council and the East Midlands Development Agency. The centre will be built on land provided by the city council.

Toyota, which employs 3,000 people in the East Midlands, will supply training materials, equipment and vehicles, which will be renewed every six months. The company will also share developments in technology and teaching practices with the academy.

Nick Hammond, Broxtowe's business manager, said that the academy will help to develop hybrid technologies for petrol and electric cars and will also be shaping environmental engineering technologies.

"The proposed Toyota academy is a development that is unique in Europe, bringing together three training centres on one site," he said.

It will include a vocational engineering centre for 14 to 16-year-olds, who will spend one day a week at the academy studying for vehicle maintenance and repair qualifications.

There will be a vocational technology centre for post-16 trainees, operating an international initiative called the Toyota training and education partnership, which the company already operates in colleges and prisons across the UK.

It will also be the national training centre for Toyota GB staff and trainees working in the company's service network.

"Toyota will be providing a new set of cars every six months, so the centre will never look tired and out-of-date," Mr Hammond added.

"We will be offering pre-entry level one courses for 14-year-olds to level five courses for graduates under one roof. Our students will be working on the full Toyota range, including the Lexus and the hybrid model Prius."

He said he expects building work to commence next spring, for completion in 2007.

Gary Harlock, regional training manager for Toyota, said his company would be paying a commercial rent for the use of the academy. "There is nothing like this in the UK. It is unique. The potential is phenomenal.

"It will be a state-of-the-art academy, second to none, which meets all of our needs and also supports further and higher education in Nottingham.

"This is new ground for us, especially the bridge it creates between the public and private sectors."

He said the academy could be used as the template for other industries looking to set up specialised training facilities.

"There is a possibility that other manufacturers might see what we are doing and do something similar. There is a drive for employers to play a more active role in further education in the future and this is a potential model of the support that can be provided," he added.

Toyota's managing director, Graham Smith, said: "We are already well established in Nottingham and the East Midlands with our car manufacturing plant at Burnaston.

"This project will develop our relationship with the community and help to give young people the skills to find sustainable employment."

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