The announcement follows Chancellor Gordon Brown’s announcement in his pre-budget report of a planned major increase in the number of apprenticeships on offer across the country.

Under the college expansion plans, 100 full-time equivalent places will be opened up for 16-18-year-old students in the coming year. Registration for the places in various fields opens this month.

Barnfield principal Pete Birkett (pictured) said: “This is part of our continuing commitment to improving education in Bedfordshire. Our present qualification success rate is between 82-83 per cent and we are always striving to do better.”

The college, which is ranked in the top 10 in the country, has also invested £4.2 million in a brand-new campus in Luton which will specialise in IT, retail, skills for life and English for speakers of other languages among many other courses.

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