PROSPECTS College has unveiled the UK’s first advanced technology college – focused on building Britain’s railways and roads for the next 60 years.

Yesterday, students, teachers and dignitaries attended the campus in Basildon where the Government’s skills minister, Nick Boles, cut the ribbon.

The move has seen the college, which will serve more than 2,000 students and apprentices, transform into Prospects College of Advanced Technology.

It will now benefit from Government funding and will offer higher qualifications equivalent to degree level.

Ministers are hoping the move will see the next generation of technician engineers, aerospace engineers and skilled construction workers come from south Essex.

As well as a name change, the college has built its own £420,000 railway academy, which includes a platform, signalling equipment and railway tracks.

It means more apprentices can learn their trade at the college rather than going out on the job with National Rail.

Mr Boles said: “We want Britain to be at the forefront of engineering across the world and we are starting that at Prospects.

“We need to build railways and roads and young people are learning the skills they will need to set our society up for the next 60 years right here.

“It’s disappointing professional education has become the poor relation in the last 20 years.

We need to turn that around.

“There is no better place to start that than in Basildon.”

Prospects, which has campuses in Castle Point and Southend too, is the first higher education college the Government has created in 20 years.

It will be able to offer Higher National Diplomas from level one all the way up to level five.

Previously it has only been able to offer up to level four (equivalent to three A-levels).

Mr Boles also said he wanted to see more women take up apprenticeships and hoped Prospects would lead the way.

He said: “We cannot succeed as a society unless we draw on all of our talents.

“We have to have as many women as we can find to forge a successful career in technology and engineering.”