UNIONS and employers have joined forces at a Barnstaple company to provide it and other local businesses with a new high-tech training centre. J and S Marine on the Pottington Industrial Estate has just opened its new £50,000 IT and video conferencing tra

UNIONS and employers have joined forces at a Barnstaple company to provide it and other local businesses with a new high-tech training centre.J and S Marine on the Pottington Industrial Estate has just opened its new £50,000 IT and video conferencing training centre and is also offering to make it available to others.In the first such initiative based in North Devon, the new centre has been half funded by the Amicus sector of the Unite trades union, which secured match funding for the project from the Learning Works for All fund.With the aid of the North Devon College it will deliver high level technical and specialist training, plus basic information and communication technology training and personal development opportunities.By sharing the facilities with other local companies it is aimed to increase efficiency in the supply chain and increase participation in high tech training in the local area through lower shared costs.J and S Marine is at the cutting edge of advanced engineering and marine technology in the defence and energy-systems markets.It has been established in Barnstaple for 40 years and currently employs just under 100 people here, plus another 20 in Aberdeen, dealing with the offshore oil and gas industry.New managing director David Jefferies said: "We appreciate the support given to the bid by UnionLearn and we look forward to the centre being used by other local businesses. "We are a company facing a number of challenges in our chosen markets and the ability to develop and up-skill our employees is a critical success factor in meeting our business challenges. This training centre will help us achieve those goals."Mr Jefferies' appointment as MD is one of a number of board changes at the company.He has taken over from Alan Hayman, who after 12 years as MD has taken the role of non-executive chairman, following the retirement of Professor Peter Timms.