Cumbria's first painting and decorating academy has been launched.

Lakes College, at Lillyhall, has teamed up with Bell Decorating Group to create the centre of excellence.

The partnership said it will enhance existing courses and give students hands-on experience they need to succeed in the industry.

Bell Decorating Group is one of the largest painting, decorating and building maintenance contractors in the UK.

Learners at Lakes College will be taught employability skills that go hand-in-hand with the latest professional techniques, with the opportunity to apply for work experience placements and apprenticeships, the partnership said.

Mike Neilie, branch manager, Bell Decorating Group, Carlisle, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for me to give back to not only the industry I work for but the local community in which I live.

"I have seen first-hand the calibre of apprentices that have come from this college and to personally be involved with their successful careers is an honour.”

Rachel Melton, career and employability leader for Lakes College, added: “This is an extremely motivating opportunity for students to engage directly with the employer to raise future aspirations.

"I’m very excited to work directly with students with a focus on pathways to ensure each individual’s skill sets are nurtured and developed as much as possible readying them for life in a professional setting.”

The purpose of these academies is to address the industry-wide shortage of skilled painters and decorators who have experience as well as the course knowledge.

It is hoped the launch of the academy for painting and decorating students will be followed by further launches for other trades addressing the shortage of skilled tradesman within all areas paving the way for the future of skilled tradesmen across the county.