Fareham College’s Bishopsfield Road campus will be home to the new business ‘skillslabs’ centre, in which a new skills accelerator programme will launch.
Funding for this centre – as well as its sister business centre set to be developed on the Isle of Wight – came from the Department for Education’s Strategic Development Fund.
Its aim is to provide businesses with the skills they need – and give them access to future skills training.
Fareham College is part of the skillslabs project, working with 10 other colleges: Isle of Wight College, HSDC, Eastleigh College, Brockenhurst College, Southampton City College, City of Portsmouth College, Itchen College, Barton Peveril College, and the Lighthouse Learning Trust.
Andrew Kaye, principal and chief executive, said: ‘Working in collaboration with the other colleges to deliver this new college business centre is an integral element to improving access for businesses to further education and skills training across the Solent region. ‘Research demonstrates that there is a huge need for effective engagement between training providers and employers, and greater support for businesses to develop their own tailored learning and development programmes, in order to deliver the skills solutions that SMEs require to be successful.’
It’s the Solent region’s first such business centre.
Working with businesses, the centre will act as a hub, providing them with better access to the training they require, and aims to improve economic activity, particularly for small to medium enterprises and micro-businesses.
The college and employers will be working in partnership with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.
Ross McNally, chief executive officer at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘The business community will gain great benefit from this valuable initiative.
‘Hampshire Chamber recognises the skills gaps and uncertainty being experienced across many sectors, and this strong partnership of colleges, the Chamber and businesses at the heart of this new exciting project will support local SMEs throughout the Solent region.’
The skills accelerator programme was born from the white paper Skills for Jobs, supported by the Department for Education.
Rachael Randall, the Solent LEP’s skills lead, said: ‘The new business centre is great news for our region, bringing together colleges with businesses to champion a system which meets the needs of employers, inspires young people and increases opportunities within our communities.
‘This will complement work being done across the sector.
‘Education and skills are critical to our region’s future prosperity, and, as we set out on the path to economic recovery, this collaborative approach is an opportunity to move forward and shape tomorrow’s workforce for the better.’
Beverley Poole is the newly appointed business centre director at Fareham College.
She said: ‘It is an absolute pleasure to bring my rounded experience to the new Business Centre and our colleges.
‘We will be bridging the gap between education, training and supporting business development, bringing much needed awareness of technical education across the Solent region. Digital futures, marine technology, Net Zero and green skills are on our agenda and I will be interested to speak to specialists in these fields who would like to help shape the future of education and training and be a part of steering groups.’