A COLLEGE business centre to serve the Solent is one step closer to becoming reality.

Fareham College is working in partnership with nine other colleges in the region.

It has been successful in obtaining the funding required from the Department for Education’s Strategic Development Fund for the design and development.

The centre will be based at Fareham College’s Bishopsfield Road campus, and will bring colleges and employers together.

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.”

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 is to create the Solent region’s first business centre, to improve employers’ access to the region’s future skills training.

Ross McNally, CEO of 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."

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.

She said: "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."