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Rich seam is mined

Coalville Technical College was founded with employer links at its heart. The former mining college existed to serve the training needs of Leicestershire miners, until the pits closed and colliers and college alike had to seek new work.

Today, unemployment is still high among ex-miners, whose womenfolk are now likelier than their husbands to attend college in an effort to adapt their skills to the jobs available.

Meanwhile the college has turned to new markets often far from its doorstep to ensure its own growth at a time of financial squeeze. This month, building on a seven-year expansion in its vehicle engineering programmes, it opened a training workshop equipped in collaboration with national and international heavy goods vehicle manufacturers. The project was backed with almost Pounds 350,000 from the Department for Education and Employment's Competitiveness Fund, channelled through Leicestershire Training and Enterprise Council.

To meet the TEC's strict criteria, the college had to prove it was responding to employer needs as well as helping meet Government training targets.

It worked with major manufacturers including Volvo and Scania to ensure the equipment bought suited the firms' training needs. The college now has contracts to train HGV employees nationwide.

David Hylins, Coalville's director of technical programmes, believes the college could never have become a centre of excellence without working directly with employers.

"They were able to give us pointers over which equipment to buy and where to get the best rates, and they also made substantial donations."

The new facilities secured through employer links will also benefit non-sponsored motor vehicle trainees at the college, says Mr Hylins, who collects model lorries in his spare time.

"They have the advantage of the latest equipment, and also the certainty that we know the needs of the employers who they will approach for work."

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