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Automotive Academy plan stays on track

The Government's bid to make the UK a centre of excellence for car design and production techniques will be outlined in March with the first concrete steps taken before the end of the year.

Sources at the Department of Trade and Industry say the plan to create an Automotive Academy at Ford's Dagenham site in Essex is making swift progress. The board will report to ministers in March with the first programmes implemented in September.

The Whitehall-funded initiative is aimed at helping the automotive sector fulfil its potential. By increasing UK productivity, it aims to create better-paid jobs and higher returns for investors.

Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry, says the creation of an Automotive Academy is about making sure the UK car industry is well placed to compete in the future. In August, a 12-member board was named and it has met twice to hammer out a clear vision of the academy system. The crucial elements of this vision are to create a nationally accessible academy that focuses on lifelong learning for everyone in the industry. It aims to provide students with academic and vocational accreditation as well as the practical skills.

An Automotive Academy will be created and based around a national hub and regional spoke structure, but no new “bricks and mortar” sites will be created. The board will present a five-year development plan for the academy system to Hewitt at the end of May, including suggestions for top priority tasks that need to be completed by September 2003.

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