WORK is underway on a brand new £5million state-of-the-art learning and technology centre for college students.

And a special ceremony was held at the Braintree campus of Colchester Institute as the ground was broken at the start of the construction work.

It is expected to open next year and will provide students with a centre where they can practise their skills using industry-standard equipment.

Alison Andreas, the college's principal and chief executive, said: "We have marked today, another significant milestone in our exciting Braintree campus masterplan.

"This time next year, our campus will be fully modernised, with every building boasting state of the art learning spaces and industry standard facilities.

"Here, young people and adults will gain the skills and knowledge that will secure their future job prospects, and supply local employers with the skills their businesses need today and into the future.

"This is such a far cry from the campus we inherited in 2010 and we’re hugely grateful to the SELEP and Essex County Council for their generous support for this significant re-development programme."

The centre, which will be in Church Lane, will join the existing STEM Innovation Centre at the site which opened last June.

It will include an IT and digital media area as well as other facilities for business, health and care, public services and construction studies.

Bosses hope it will help cope with the increasing demand for skilled workers in the digital areas.

Gagan Mohindra, county councillor for economic development, said "The addition of this new learning and technology centre to Colchester Institute’s STEM Innovation centre in Braintree will enhance the skills eco-system in Essex.

"This facility will help to make our county even more agile and responsive to the labour market as well as helping our residents to prosper now and in the future."

Guests at the event last week included representatives from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Essex County Council, which has supported the project through capital grants, and Braintree Council.