A BUSINESS partnership has stressed the importance of skills development in its latest action plan for the region.

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a partnership between business, education and local authorities, last week published its Solent Skills Action Plan and Local Skills Report.

The report reveals a current digital divide in the area, setting out plans to simplify the landscape for businesses and individuals, responding to productivity issues and helping to address skills gaps.

The LEP claims the development of skills plays a "critical role" in providing opportunities for the region’s residents, workforce and businesses, helping them to remain competitive and grow.

Informed by evidence and "extensive" consultation, the partnership's Skills Advisory Panel, that published the report, has themed its approach under four interconnected strategic priorities: awareness and aspirations, brokerage; matching supply with demand, core sectors and competencies and digital inclusion.

A three stage approach has been adopted to reflect short, medium and longer term programmes of activity over the next five years.

It will move from short-term actions, to ensure the skills system plays a key role in supporting businesses and communities to restart, restore and recover, to longer term transformational actions allowing the Solent to lead the way in climate change adaptation.

Chair of the Skills Advisory Panel, and Chief Executive and Principal at HTP Apprenticeship College, Rachael Randall said the work of the Advisory Panel "has never been more important".

"It is vitally important that we in the Solent, develop and equip our workforce with the necessary skills to thrive in a knowledge and technology driven world.

"Our new approach is key to ensuring the region has the resources and support it needs to restart, restore and recover.”

The Solent LEP says it supports "placing employers firmly in the driving seat and highlights the importance of colleges, and training providers in delivering the skills employers and the economy need".