COUNCIL and education bosses are teaming up in a bid to drive economic growth and promote opportunities for residents and businesses across the area.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackburn College and Lancaster University will be working together on a number of projects which prioritise improving skills, attainments and routes to quality jobs.

The collaboration will help achieve a key element of the Government’s developing industrial strategy ‘creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places’.

Harry Catherall, the council's chief executive, said: “This alliance will mean we can enhance our ongoing and future project work.

“It’s about working even closer together to deliver innovative ways of making a real difference to people in Blackburn and Darwen.

“In Blackburn and Darwen we know one of the main strengths we have is strong partnership working and this is another positive step forward to make sure people get the prosperity they deserve.”

One scheme has seen a group of high achieving A-level students be linked up with local businesses or experts in the fields they are interested in as they started their first year at university.

Many have already completed work experience or secured mentors.

Dr Thomas Moore, the college's principal and chief executive, said: “This unrivalled and sector-leading partnership goes to the heart of what Blackburn College seeks to achieve.

“Meeting the needs of employers, driving social improvement and providing world-class inclusive education and training for our community, equipping them with those skills and attributes so valued by employers in a very competitive global market place.

“This is about creating an 'Agenda for Change' and transforming Blackburn’s place in the UK and the world.”

Health and social care will be a key focus, with work taking place to further strengthen community and social activities and the opportunities provided by digital developments.

New investment from successful funding bids also promises to create further capacity.

Andrew Atherton, the university's pro vice chancellor, added: “Lancaster University is proud to be based in the North West and we work hard to contribute to improving our local communities.

“We are looking to apply leading edge research and insight to build a healthier and stronger Blackburn with Darwen.”