A £6 MILLION centre which will improve facilities for York students to learn construction skills has been given a Government boost.

The £2 million Whitehall grant will provide a third of the funding for York College to create a new purpose-built construction centre on its SimBalk Lane site, replacing two leased buildings.

The project has been on the cards for several years and the college will top up the Government money with £4 million from its financial reserves.

The grants for new facilities at 22 colleges across the UK, totalling £113.8 million and supported by £80.5 million of local investment, from the College Capital Investment Fund (CCIF) were announced today by Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock.

York College principal Alison Birkinshaw said: "This has been six years in the planning, and we are delighted the Skills Funding Agency has agreed to support us.

"The grant will allow us to provide outstanding facilities for all our students and at just the right time, when York is in need of highly-qualified, skilled young people to progress into the construction industry. This is an extremely exciting project for the college."

The centre will cover all aspects of the construction curriculum and the Government said it will create opportunities for students to move quickly into roles within the industry and increase the amount of learning offered. It said the centre will also "support economic growth in the construction sector", with bids for funding assessed on how they responded to "customer need".

Since its 2012 launch, the CCIF has provided more than £471 million towards projects worth £920 million. Mr Hancock said: "Effective capital investment has a significant educational and economic impact, helping attract learners back into education and training, improving learner outcomes, and boosting the businesses and communities they serve.

"We must ensure further education and vocational training is of the highest possible quality, and this vital investment will help make that a reality.”

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the investment "will make a real difference to further education colleges and their students", and colleges were prepared to spend twice as much as their funding allocation to ensure projects go ahead.