Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls opens technical skills academy in Barking

Ed Balls praised education chiefs today as he was given the first look at a �14million academy set to provide thousands of teenagers with vocational skills.

The Technical Skills Academy near East Street, Barking, will teach cookery, hairdressing, multi-media, construction and engineering to students aged 14 to 19.

It will seek to slash youth unemployment by giving teenagers professional skills and breathe new life into Barking Town Centre.

The Shadow Chancellor said: “I don’t think this is a 1950s throwback, it’s an education necessity of the 21st century.

“I have seen this facility - It is really first class.

“It is really going to make a difference to the lives of young people in the borough, not just for the next two years but for the next five, 10 or 20 years.”

The five-storey building will be able to teach up to 550 students at any one time.

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It features a hairdressing salon, cookery facilities and a Starbuck coffee shop on the ground floor.