Yeovil College has been formally recognised as a Centre of Vocational Excellence.

The college has been given funding of £500,000 over three years by Somerset Learning and Skills Council to develop a key specialist training in advanced engineering.

The money has helped pay for new state-of-the-art engineering workshops and high-tech machinery which will enable the college to develop its teaching of advanced engineering.

The project was also supported by a further £200,000 of funding from the LSC last summer which has enabled the establishment of a credible, industry-standard facility.

This will allow the college to provide a full range of composite design, development, manufacturing and repair processes.

Somerset LSC's executive director Dugald Sandeman unveiled the CoVE plaque at Yeovil College and paid tribute to the college's success in producing tomorrow's advanced engineers.

"Companies like the Agusta Westland Group look to Yeovil College to provide tomorrow's skilled workforce and the standards set here are second to none," he said.

Yeovil is one of three colleges in Somerset to be granted CoVE status as part of a Government programme designed to meet the skills of the nation.

Somerset College of Arts and Technology in Taunton has a centre specialising in construction and Bridgwater College has a centre for automotive engineering. Bridgwater also has an Early Years Care CoVE that is in its development year. Plans are underway for three further CoVEs within the county covering business and management, tourism and residential care.

The Government first announced the CoVE programme in November 2000 with an aim to encourage colleges to develop greater vocational specialisation to boost skills.

Mr Sandeman added: "We are delighted to be funding the CoVE programme in Somerset. To have three colleges recognised is a tremendous achievement.

"Together these centres will underpin a modern further education sector, contributing fully to the nation's skills and the drive to boost competitiveness."