Preliminary work has started on a BD9.2 million ($24.4 million) expansion of the Bahrain Training Institute (BTI).The expansion will increase the institute's student capacity by 40 per cent, to around 10,000, said director-general Hameed Saleh.'Drawings for the expansion are being prepared in association with the Works and Housing Ministry,' he said.'The project which will be implemented in three phases will include an IT Academy, an Engineering Block, a Business Block and a Learning Resource Centre.'The IT Academy will be constructed in the first phase, work on which will start by the middle of next year, said Saleh.'It will be an independent block at the complex with new labs, workshop facilities and a video conferencing hall,' he said.'The engineering and business blocks will also have hi-tech facilities.'Laboratories and equipment will be upgraded. The Learning Resource Centre will be equipped with new technology that would prove a boon to researchers.'BTI currently has on its rolls more than 3,000 regular students.This is in addition to about 4,000 students sponsored by corporate establishments for short courses.The expansion will increase the total number of students by another 40 per cent,' said Saleh.'We are grateful to the government for the ongoing support given to the institute which will enable us to meet the challenges of the future.'Hundreds of secondary school graduates have shown interest in the job-oriented courses offered at the institute.An exhibition on the courses held earlier this year attracted double the number of prospective students than a similar event last year.'This reflects the confidence of students in our courses and their relevance to the job market,' said Saleh.'The institute has finalised its programmes for this year based on a labour market survey.