Solent LEP asks for views on its priorities for 2020

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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REPRESENTATIVES from businesses and educational establishments across the region were given the opportunity to tell the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership what they thought of their priorities for the future.

According to the organisation’s Transforming Solent Growth Strategy printed this month, the LEP’s priorities include supporting new businesses, investing in skills, developing clusters for the marine, aerospace and defence sectors as well as advanced manufacturing, engineering, transport and logistics businesses, and building on knowledge assets to support innovation.

Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent LEP, said at the event at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton that £124.8m of investment has been secured for the region through the local growth deal in recent months.

Money will be spent on a number of capital projects, including the Fareham and Gosport peninsula, new housing at north Whiteley, and cross-Solent connectivity between Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

‘Our plans should evolve and respond to circumstances,’ he said.

The LEP’s growth strategy also lays out targets for the Solent region for now until 2020.

These include creating an additional 15,500 new jobs in the LEP area, increase average page, improve productivity, increase employment rates to 80 per cent from the current 78 per cent, enable the building of 24,000 new homes, support the raise in educational attainment and raise the proportion of people with skills above Level 4 to by four per cent to 36 per cent.

Skills minister Nick Boles also spoke at the event. He was asked questions from the floor, on subjects including careers advice, apprenticeships, skills, national citizenship service.

n Before the LEP event, Mr Boles visited the Cathedral Innovation Centre and Portsmouth College, as reported on page 10.