Six students have become the first in the country to be awarded an Advanced Apprenticeship in rail transport engineering.
They have been trained under a partnership between Tamworth & Lichfield College Technology Centre and Birmingham-based train maintenance company, Maintrain.
The six were taken on as apprentices by Maintrain who approached the College to offer the specialised qualification following the success of other bespoke training courses previously provided for them by the establishment.
The apprenticeship is a three year programme, the first part of which is completed in college learning skills necessary to achieve a technical certificate, and the second spent in the Maintrain depot - part of a new project which sees Maintrain assessors developing specialist workplace modules and assessing the progress of apprentices on the spot.
Gary Hayward, head of the college's Technology Centre, said the partnership had worked so well that Maintrain had now decided to place six apprentices a year onto the same scheme.
"We have worked with this company for some time providing various types of training, but this is the first time we have collaborated so closely to develop such specialised modules leading to the awarding of Advanced Apprenticeship qualifications by the Skills Sector Council for Passenger Transport," he said.
Maintrain training manager Terry Wylie added: "We are very pleased at the success of this programme.
"Tamworth & Lichfield College has done everything possible to support us setting in place this technical and specialist training for our staff, and we have worked together to ensure that skills match up to the requirements of the awarding body. All in all, it's been another very good example of the way the college helps businesses plug skills gaps through effective training programmes."
As a result of the collaboration, Maintrain has since requested the college to provide qualifications in environ-mental management, managing safely, working safely and internal auditing to its staff in Tyseley.
The Technology Centre also offers Advanced Apprentice-ships in electrical installation, mechanical engineering and motor vehicle, as well as a new Level 3 NVQ in electrical installation.