STUDENTS with Asperger's syndrome are to benefit from a new specialist learning centre in Torfaen.

Priory Coleg Wales opens at Coleg Gwent's Pontypool campus in September, when ten students, aged between 16 and 25, will become the first to access more than 150 academic and vocational courses at the college.

It has classrooms, IT facilities, a therapy room, a learning kitchen and a dining room - all designed to provide retreat when students feel challenged by social situations in the mainstream education college.

The learning centre will also house services including numeracy and literacy support, speech and language therapy, counselling and art therapy.

It aims to tackle the long-term unemployment problems people with Asperger's syndrome are suffering from.

In 2007, National Autistic Society's Don't write me off campaign found only 15 percent of adults with autism in England were in full-time paid employment, which could be increased with better support during their transition from education into work.

Coleg Priory Wales will be jointly run by Coleg Gwent and Priory Education Services, which provides special needs education services.

Students will use local buses to travel between Coleg Gwent's campuses with the aim of increasing independent travel skills for the future.

Ten jobs will initially be created but could increase to 50 within the next couple of years, when the centre could be expanded to meet demand.

Simon Coles, School Principal of Priory Coleg Wales said: "Work-based learning, work experience and employability skills are embedded into the study programmes to help with transition and preparation for further study or employment.

"The ultimate outcome is for students to be prepared for a fulfilling adulthood, to feel empowered to make choices and to optimise their independent living skills."