Solent consortium awarded £2.5 million to help support the region’s skills gaps
South Hampshire College Group has welcomed the news that the Solent region has been allocated a £2.5 million skills fund boost.
Other colleges and training providers benefiting from the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) include Brockenhurst College, HSDC, City of Portsmouth College, Isle of Wight College, Itchen Sixth Form College, Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, PETA, HTP Apprenticeship College, UTC Portsmouth, and Lighthouse Learning Trust.
The investment is strategically aimed at supporting colleges, universities, and independent training providers in offering more training opportunities in key industries. Importantly, it addresses the specific skills needs identified by local businesses and employers in their Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs). Hampshire Chamber of Commerce was tasked as the employer representative body to conduct the skills gap research for the region, to help identify where further investment would be needed.
To date, the initiative has seen £80 million worth of funding distributed nationwide between 2023 to 2024 (£40 million revenue and £40 million capital), with £85 million capital planned for 2024 to 2025. It forms part of a larger £200 million package of skills funding from the Department for Education (DfE).
Andrew Kaye, CEO of South Hampshire College Group, said: "The LSIF award is a recognition of the excellent joint efforts in our region, especially in supporting the development of the Solent LSIP.
"We are proud to have led the consortium that put together a strong funding bid, in response to the skills gap research undertaken by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. This targeted investment provides our region with the skilled workforce needed for growth and development and state-of-the-art industry facilities and equipment, ensuring education meets the changing needs of our local economy. We are eager to see the beneficial impact this will have on our students, local businesses and the wider community."
The Solent region has pinpointed several key developmental sectors, including a focus on the creative industry. Efforts will be directed towards enhancing skills in production arts, set design and construction, stage management, and light and sound technician roles.
The initiative will also address the Maritime and Freeport sectors, concentrating on filling skill gaps in logistics, supply chain management, digital innovation, and the adoption of alternative fuels.
Additionally, the initiative involves considerable investment in research and development. It aims to improve higher-level progression pathways, expand outreach programmes, and implement activities that elevate employability and engagement.
Health and social care are also a priority, with a focus on addressing the shortage in health-related digital skills, immersive healthcare technology, assisted diagnostics, and specialist roles in anticipatory and critical care.
Ross McNally, CEO and Executive Chair of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, commented: "We are delighted that the Solent region has been awarded this significant funding. It is of vital importance that we have a skills system in the region that meets the needs of both local employers and learners, which also supports the local economy with the closing of skills gaps.
"When it comes to skills, we have a lot to be proud of. We have several leading educational and training providers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and sectors, such as our renowned maritime industry, that are thriving. However, that does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement, and this funding will mark a significant shift in how we approach and finance their needs.
"The collaboration between the Chambers of Commerce, educational institutions, and businesses is a great example of how working together can make a real difference and we would like to congratulate all involved for making this achievement possible."
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: "This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately futureproofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation.
“Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses, and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies.
“Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.”
For more information on South Hampshire College Group, visit: www.shcg.ac.uk
To learn more about the Local Skills Improvement Plans in your region, visit: www.gov.uk
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