A new academy which will train more than 100 apprentices to work on the A14 road upgrade has officially opened its doors in Huntingdon.

Roads Minister opens the Highways Academy in HuntingdonRoads Minister opens the Highways Academy in Huntingdon

Visited by Roads Minister, John Hayes, the Highways Academy hopes to take on 129 workers for the development – the biggest road upgrade in Britain – in time for construction to start later this year.

The site, based at West Anglia Training Association (WATA), even has its own mock-up roadside for students to practise on – the first learning tool of its kind in the country.

Mr Hayes said: “It’s great to have a real road to learn their skills on and seems to me to be by far the best way of making practical what they’ve learnt in theory.

“An apprenticeship is all about the blend between theory and practice and this gives life to that and I think it’s a wonderful example of how skills can be imparted in a college-type setting.”

The A14 development is set to upgrade 21 miles of road, cutting up to 20 minutes off motorists’ journeys, with a new bypass for Huntingdon and widening of the A1 also part of the plans.

In total, the scheme is set to cost £1.5 billion – a share of some £15 billion put forward to improve roads across the country.

“By acquiring skills which have real significance, people build careers and change their lives because their life chances change and that’s really what this is all about - about transforming opportunities for local people,” Mr Hayes added.

“Apprenticeships at their heart have that balance – that learning and doing – which seems to me to be exemplified by this work.”

Work on the A14 is expected to start sometime this November.