PLANS for a new vocational centre in Bacup will help to tackle Rossendale’s high youth unemployment rates, it is hoped.

Latest figures showed that the unemployment rate among 17 to 24-year olds in the borough has increased from 200 seven years ago to 610 last month.

But Accrington and Rossendale College (AccRoss) has confirmed that ambitious proposals to convert Stubbylee Hall will see a trade college opening there next September.

First revealed by the Lancashire Telegraph eight months ago, the centre will specialise in construction, motor engineering and horticulture.

Stephen Carlisle, AccRoss principal, said: “The new centre is a fantastic resource for the local community and will give residents the chance to learn new skills, on their doorstep without the need to travel.

“The entire curriculum that we are offering is aligned to potential job vacancies locally so that we are truly equipping people with the qualifications they need to leave us and go into employment.”

College bosses have been working closely on the project with the borough council, which owns the landmark building.

Mr Carlisle said the college would aim to improve the ‘employability and entrepreneurial skills’ of young people and adults, and partnerships had already been formed with local firms, ahead of the opening.

The college has also been expanding its services in Bacup with a range of health and beauty courses being offered at the Maden Centre.