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Wales gears up for training centre

More than 160 apprentices a year will get a jump-start into the motor industry in a part of Wales devastated by job losses.

A pound;4.7 million training centre in Newport, funded by the Welsh Development Agency, Renault and motor training company EMTEC, was opened on Thursday. It will train apprentices as service technicians and specialists in body and paint work.

The south Wales site was chosen by the WDA to help people find work after the closure of the Corus steel plant, announced in 2001, meant the loss of 3,000 jobs.

The investment is also a boost for the UK motor industry, hit by the collapse of Rover's Longbridge plant and job losses at Peugeot's factory near Coventry.

Called Delta House, the centre will allow apprentices to follow a seven-week residential course before they start on-the-job training at Renault's network of dealerships across the country. The company's advanced apprenticeships take three-and-a-half years to complete.

As well as their work-based training, apprentices are also expected to earn NVQs, a technical certificate awarded by the Institute of the Motor Industry, and key skills qualifications in IT, English and maths.

Two other car manufacturers will also use the centre, which offers six workshops, eight classrooms and three training rooms.

Robert Goodwin is managing director of EMTEC, which runs apprenticeships for 20 car manufacturers. Delta House would create new jobs in Wales and southern England and address the industry's skills shortage, he said.

"The opening of this new centre marks an important expansion of a nationwide network of training facilities for the automotive industry," he said.

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