HAMPSHIRE Chamber of Commerce has pledged to help solve the skills shortage faced by employers every day as it officially opened its new head office.

The chamber's new office at Fareham College business centre was opened in the presence of management and member representatives.

Declaring the office open, Hampshire Chamber chief executive and executive chairman Ross McNally said: “This is all about championing growth for our members and strengthening the essential links they rely on between the worlds of business and education.

“By moving to this fantastic new business centre, we put ourselves at the heart of the facilities and solutions that will be involved in solving the skills gaps Hampshire businesses grapple with day in, day out. We are right here at the junction of business and skills growth.”

The business centre is on the college’s 22-acre Bishopsfield Road campus in Fareham and part of the wider Skillslabs project being delivered under the government’s Skills Accelerator programme.

The idea of Skillslabs is that business centres act as interactive “hubs” providing employers with access to the training they require.

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, colleges and employers are being brought together with particular emphasis on skills for marine technology, digital futures and net zero.

Skillslabs also aim to support the incubation and growth of SMEs and micro-businesses through space for coworking. Hampshire Chamber has dedicated part of its new office as a coworking space called ChamberSppace.

Members can take advantage of space for hot desking, booths for one-to-one and small group meetings, open plan working, breakout areas and boardroom facilities.

There is high-speed connectivity, a smart screen TV for presentations, free parking and access to canteen and catering extras.

The new office accommodates a core Chamber team of nine who work on international trade, membership services, marketing and events, with flexible working space for four more staff.

Guests at the official opening included Andrew Kaye, principal and chief executive of Fareham College, and Beverley Poole, the college’s director of business centres, who leads on the Skillslabs initiative.

Hampshire Chamber has moved to Fareham College after nine years at Wates House on Wallington Hill, two miles east.

Chamber president Peter Taylor said: “It is fantastic to have opened our doors and now officially celebrated our move to Fareham College.

“This is great news for our members, so many of whom have told us of the constant challenges they face in addressing skills gaps.

“It is only through improving the links between education providers and businesses that these issues can be tackled.”