PLANS for a new elite college which could be built in West Somerset – jointly funded by the Government and nuclear industry – have been welcomed.

Last week, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills announced plans to support high level technical skills in the growing nuclear industry.

The location for the new college is currently unknown but Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council and West Somerset College have all expressed interest.

Matthew Hancock, the Skills and Enterprise Minister, set out the plans to help with the shortage in skills.

Mr Hancock said: “A new generation of industry-led elite colleges will give our workforce the right skills to lead the way in both nuclear and software.

“The growing nuclear sector offers vital opportunities for highly skilled workers and we must make sure that the UK is at the forefront of this growing industry.”

An elite college would provide skilled labour to meet needs for more engineers, nuclear power and software design.

Cllr David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Somerset County Council welcomes this news and stands ready to link any new development with the significant further education investment already made in Somerset and the South-West for this growing sector.”

Cllr Tim Taylor added: “This is excellent news and is another important initiative to help the UK deliver the range of skilled personnel needed to construct Hinkley Point C.

“I feel sure this will build on the excellent work being undertaken by our local colleges and provide a complete pathway for our young peopl

e to help provide the workforce needed to construct and operate the new power stations.”

The news was also welcomed by West Somerset College who said there was a real need for expert teachers to train the next generation.

A spokesperson for West Somerset College said: “We would be very pleased about this development; there is a huge need for skills, in particular the teaching skills required to train the next generation of people working in the nuclear industry.

“A new college of this type would have the facilities and the level and quality of teaching required.”