Council seeking college bids

A new college or training centre could be created in a Norfolk town to boost the skills and job prospects of young people. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) yesterday announced that it was inviting bids to create a minimum of 200 extra post-16 educational places in Thetford.

A new college or training centre could be created in a Norfolk town to boost the skills and job prospects of young people.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) yesterday announced that it was inviting bids to create a minimum of 200 extra post-16 educational places in Thetford.

Local schools, sixth forms, colleges, training providers, and private organisations are being invited to submit proposals as it emerged that an estimated 60pc of Thetford's 16 to 18-year-olds are taking part in some form of education or training - significantly lower than the Norfolk average of 71pc.

Officials from the LSC in Norfolk are now hoping to increase the town's average to an "ambitious" 90pc over the next eight years by funding at least 200 additional post-16 places.

The seven-month bidding competition also aims to respond to Thetford's growth point status, which will see the creation of 5,500 new homes and around 6,000 extra jobs by 2021.

Graham Brough, area director for LSC Norfolk, said better collaboration between Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell High schools had driven up the number of young people continuing their education at the joint Thomas Paine Sixth Form.

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But he added that many post-16 learners had to travel to Bury St Edmunds, Norwich, King's Lynn or Mildenhall.

"Thetford has a tradition of its young people not staying in education or training after it is no longer compulsory, however, I'm pleased to say that things are about to change for the better."

The winning bid is expected to be announced in the spring of 2008.

Christopher Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, said: "The regeneration of Thetford will offer hugely exciting opportunities for those with the right skills, as the economy grows. We need to ensure that young people locally are able to take full advantage of these opportunities by equipping them through appropriate high quality training and education if they leave school at 16."

For more information about the competition, e-mail thetfordcompetition@lsc.gov.uk or contact Graham Brough on 01603 218858.

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