Celebrity Professor Brian Cox was guest of honour at Middlesbrough College to open a new £20m science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) centre.
The TV presenter said the centre — which has facilities including process operations and maintenance, an advanced manufacturing centre, and logistics and warehousing to replicate a real industrial environment — was “an incredibly impressive place”.
Professor Cox, speaking to scores of youngsters, added: “It’s ground-breaking — there’s a real understanding here of what industry needs and the new centre is delivering the kind of training that provides real experience.”
Principal Zoe Lewis said: “Five years ago we had fewer than 100 apprentices. This year we will train more than 1,000 across a wide range of disciplines.
“We and our partners firmly believe that Stem education and training has the potential to transform this region’s economic competitiveness.”