Companies at a thriving business hub in south Hampshire are benefiting from next-generation insights.

Sixteen students on new national T Level courses are on industry placements at Fareham Innovation Centre.

The technical qualifications, aimed at 16-18-year-olds, provides a mixture of classroom learning and on-the-job experience with a total of 45 days of work experience across the two-year programme.


Technical skills

Launched as a two-year course by the government in September 2020, focusing on vocational skills, T Levels provide a credible alternative to A Levels, allowing students to gain real-world experience while maintaining a high level of academic study.

All T Level programmes are equivalent to 3 A Levels and allow progression onto university, higher apprenticeships or into the workplace.

Fareham Innovation Centre, home to nearly 50 businesses, and Fareham College forged a partnership to place students at eight companies on site.


Great feedback

Stephen Brownlie, Centre Director, said: “We’ve received great feedback from our customers on the work the students are doing for them on industry placements. Students have got stuck in and are learning essential skills as well as providing next-generation insights. Young adults are also learning the soft skills that are part and parcel of daily working life, such as how to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers and the importance of research and development, marketing and sales. From a broader perspective, having these new skills may well put students in a better position when applying for future jobs.”


Competitive jobs market

“Official figures show that total UK population aged 16 to 24 has been declining in recent years, meaning increased competition for jobs due to a smaller labour pool for employers and exacerbated by a well-documented national skills shortage.”

Next to Solent Airport at Lee-on-the-Solent, near Gosport, Fareham Innovation Centre has 55 offices, 20 light manufacturing and engineering workshops and a meeting and conference centre. Companies on-site include ones from the aerospace, aviation, advanced manufacturing and marine sectors.


Innovation driver

Stephen, pictured, said: “Innovation is the driver in these sectors – the T Level students are getting a superb understanding of the painstaking work that goes on behind the scenes into concepts, product development and sales.”

Fareham Innovation Centre already runs a successful knowledge transfer partnership with regional universities, with undergraduates supporting companies with internships and other on-site support.

The Innovation Centre also has strong links with the adjacent CEMAST campus, Fareham College’s Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training, and CETC campus, Fareham College’s Civil Engineering Training Centre.

Both sites look set to welcome further T Level provisions in the upcoming years as the government introduce qualifications in engineering, manufacturing, surveying and planning.


“Engaging, productive partnership”

Anoushka Ottley, Managing Director for Business, Partnerships and Commercial at Fareham College, said: “The placement of T Level students at various companies working out of Fareham Innovation Centre is an inspirational example of an engaging, productive partnership between industry and education locally. We are grateful to the thriving centre and its occupiers for showing our students the ropes in such a professional, supportive and dynamic environment.”

As well as T Level students completing industry placements, several students undertaking Level 3 qualifications at Fareham College are also supported in gaining work experience through the Innovation Centre.

Fareham College offers a variety of Level 3 qualifications in technical, vocational and practical subjects. Level 3 is equivalent to A Level qualifications.


Placement companies

Fareham Innovation Centre is owned by Fareham Borough Council and operated by UK innovation centres operator Oxford Innovation.

Centre occupiers involved in the placement scheme include Oxford Innovation, CTECH Business Solutions, Guided Knowledge, LR Animation, Psion Vision, KOIOS Master Data, Barlow Collins and Fiona Lynn Consulting.

The T Level students are all involved in digital production, design and development.

They are Ben Stevens, Max Jewell (completed placement), Tom Stray (completed placement), Jack Regan, Elliott Stevens, Liam Wade, Xanthe Parsons, Natasha Stevenson, Ben Lovering, Tomas Navarro-Barber, Oliver Sharp and Harrison Mudge.

Henry James, Katie Hicks, Natasha Tookey and Cameron Maccoll are Level 3 Business students.