A new centre teaching youngsters painting and decorating skills has been officially opened by a Government minister.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss MP, performed the ceremony for the Dulux Academy at the AkzoNobel factory in Ashington.
She was watched by site manager Jeff Hope, staff, students from Northumberland College and Lewis, the official Dulux Dog.
The students joined the academy as its first external trainees. The programme includes painting and decorating skills and techniques such as wall papering.
Ms Truss spoke to staff and students about their courses and aims for the future. She also had a go at decorating with House of Parliament wallpaper designed for the day.
She said: “It was great to speak to the students at the Dulux Academy, who are getting the practical skills they need to develop their careers.
“This fantastic facility, opened by AkzoNobel, is also a hub for advanced manufacturing and software engineering, and it is a great example of overseas investment in Britain.
“By backing enterprise, investing in infrastructure and giving people the skills they need, we’re supporting the North East economy, which is so vital to our country’s success.”
AkzoNobel recently opened its paint production plant in North Seaton, Ashington, which houses the Dulux Academy.
The plant cost more than £100million to build. It employs 150 people.
Mr Hope said: “We were delighted to have Liz come along to our site for this official opening.
“We want to help the painting and decorating industry meet the ever-growing demand for skilled professionals.
At AkzoNobel, we believe it’s important for us to play our part in tackling the skills shortage in the construction sector, which has been restricting the UK’s house building capacity.
“Using this new academy and our first facility, which opened in Slough in 2016, we want to train and upskill 10,000 decorators by 2020.”