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'Nuclear college' to lead new breed of elite vocational institutions

Skills minister Matthew Hancock has announced that a "nuclear college" will be developed to train people to build and decommission reactors in England.

Speaking at The Skills Summit in London today, Mr Hancock said that the college would be part of a new generation of "elite vocational institutions" providing specialist skills that could then be sold to the rest of the world.

"In the next 20 years, some £930 billion will be spent across the world on new reactors, and £250 billion on decommissioning old ones," he told delegates. "In Britain alone, 40,000 jobs could be created."

Other new further education institutions include the already-announced HS2 college, to train staff needed for the high-speed rail link between the north and south of England, and the Manufacturing Training Centre in Coventry, in which the government will invest £18 million.

Mr Hancock said these new institutions would become renowned for excellence and help improve the image of vocational education.

"By growing and nurturing these elite centres, adding them to the hard work and quality that already exists – we can win over hearts and minds for the whole system," he said.

They will also start to break down the barriers between FE and higher education, he added.

As reported last week, Mr Hancock is keen to see new colleges enter the FE sector to help keep it vibrant.

But he said that colleges also need to start seeing themselves as social enterprises rather than "delivery arms of the state".

"Colleges, and vocational education, will only be high status when they look outwards," he said. "Great colleges...look outwards to their students and business community, not upwards to central government."

He urged colleges to "get out there and sell your talents, not to ministers but to students, parents and businesses and, more than anyone, to employers."

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