THE chairman of a Solent Local Enterprise Partnership steering group has launched a £1.5m fund to address skills gaps in the region and to help businesses expand.
Brian Johnson, chairman of the new Solent Marine and Maritime Steering Group who also works for BAE Systems, said the fund is focusing on creating jobs and improving the skills of workers.
For the first half of the two-year project, the Solent Employer Ownership of Skills Programme money will only be available to the marine, maritime and wider advance manufacturing sectors.
Over the two-year period, the project aims to create 200 new apprenticeships of level three or above; 200 other higher level qualifications, and safeguard or create 400 new jobs.
It also focuses on companies working together and forming long-term partnerships to make the most of the money and increase skills in workforces.
Speaking at the fund’s launch at the PSP Southampton Boat Show yesterday, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is exciting to hear predictions that the Solent’s marine and maritime industries are to grow over the coming years, but that means marine employers need help now to ensure their workforces have the skills they need to capitalise on these opportunities.
‘This latest fund will help them do just that and give ambitious employers the funds they need to bring growth plans to fruition.’
Chris Allington, skills lead for Solent LEP, added: ‘Developing a world-class workforce is central to our growth ambitions for the Solent and this latest fund puts money directly into the hands of private sector companies that can drive that growth on the ground.
‘We are looking forward to hearing from businesses with innovative plans to boost the skills not just of their own employees, but the wider industry.’
The first round application deadline is 5pm on Friday, October 17.
To find out more about applying, visit solentlep.org.uk.