WORK has started on a new £2million training centre to produce the next generation of electricity supply workers.

The Blackburn complex will recruit apprentices across East Lancashire and reskill existing staff.

The state-of-the-art academy in Whitebirk due to open by September replaces an existing centre near Wigan.

It will create local job opportunities and train the next generation of engineers to help maintain the North West’s electricity supply.

Electricity North West, which owns and maintains the region’s electricity network, aims to train 200-plus apprentices and graduates looking to start a career in the energy industry and reskill existing members of staff.

Chief Executive Steve Johnson said: “I am delighted that work has started on our new training facility.

“This is a fantastic development and it will allow us to grow our already successful apprenticeship scheme, with space for even more apprentices, A-level entrants and graduates joining our programmes. This growth is vital to ensure the North West’s network and our people are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the future.”

The new training facility will create 150 new roles over the next few years.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, said: “This is fantastic news for East Lancashire and I’m extremely impressed with the training available.

“I’m delighted that Electricity North West will help provide great employment opportunities for local residents and I believe the academy will make a real difference in tough times.”

Electricity North West funds specific electrical qualifications as well as vocational on-the-job training. .

The new academy, which will utilise current vacant land at the depot, will incorporate five workshops, classrooms, office space as well as associated amenity spaces, including outdoor training facilities.

The design of the building will complement Electricity North West’s strategy for a sustainable future by minimising energy demands of the building, and as a result maintaining a low carbon footprint.

Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss Dave Harling said the scheme was excellent news for the whole of East Lancashire.