YORK College's £6 million new construction centre was officially opened yesterday, by visiting government minister Nick Boles.

The centre on Sim Balk Lane will be home to full time students and apprentices studying brickwork, joinery, plastering and engineering courses.

The teaching centre, which houses two workshops as well as classrooms, IT suite, an electronics laboratory and changing facilities, has been up and running since the start of the academic year but had its officially opening yesterday.

Mr Boles said: "Brickwork, joinery and engineering apprenticeships, like the ones we’re celebrating at York College today are helping young people to build experience in the workplace and get a top class qualification."

He got his hands dirty during the visit, laying bricks and cutting timber during a tour of the brickwork and joinery workshops in the new centre.

The college's chairman of governors Shirley Collier said: "There is a high level of investment in construction training in York and the College’s new purpose-built Construction and Skills Centre provides a first-class learning environment for our students. The new centre also has an important role to play in meeting the needs of the growing construction sector, at a time when there is a real shortage of skills in the area."

The minister also met current students and apprentices to hear about their experience, and went to York Minster where he met with York College stonemasonry apprentice Sam Turner who won the Bronze medal for Architectural Stonemasonry at the World Skills competition in Brazil last summer.