Fareham College, which is leading this exciting new project and working in partnership with nine other colleges in the Solent region, has been successful in obtaining the funding required from the Department for Education’s Strategic Development Fund for the design and development of a new College Business Centre. This will be based at Fareham College’s Bishopsfield Road campus, and will bring colleges and employers together, working in partnership with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. The colleges involved in this project include: Fareham College, 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. 


The aim of the project is to create the Solent region’s first Business Centre, to improve employers’ access to the region’s future skills training, with all ten colleges in the partnership contributing to and benefitting from the new facility. Working with businesses, the Centre will act as a ‘hub’ providing them with better access to the training they require, when and how they need it. The Solent region has good levels of entrepreneurship and small business start-up, but a disproportionally high level of small business failure. The key aim of the proposed Business Centre is to improve economic activity, particularly for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses. The new Business Centre will support SME growth, developing the region’s expanding technology sectors and creating a step-change in the capacity to improve clean growth and carbon reduction, digital futures and marine technology. 


Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Kaye 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. The new College Business Centre will be intrinsic in supporting businesses with growing and developing future talent in the Solent region.”  


Ross McNally, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce added, “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.”  


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.” 


Newly appointed Business Centre Director, Beverley Poole, is an award-winning business person. She joins Fareham College bringing with her a wealth of experience in business leadership, creation and growth, education and most recently developing business skills clinics and an online digital learning technology platform. Beverley added, “It is an absolute pleasure to bring my rounded experience to the new Business Centre and our colleges. There is much to do in developing this state-of-the-art environment, due for completion in March 2022. 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. Working in conjunction with the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce will have benefits for all too, incubating emerging businesses in skills clinics, the development of sustainability planning and providing new technology skills to signature business members. Please do get in touch.” 


For further information please email Beverley.Poole@Fareham.ac.uk or call Fareham College on 01329 815200.