The Solent Enterprise Zone recorded a major milestone last week when a new specialist technical college held its topping-out ceremony.
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable was there to witness the progress on Fareham College’s new Centre for Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST).
Located at the heart of the Enterprise Zone, the new campus will specialise in boosting skills related to the manufacturing sector, and will also act as the main learning centre for students in apprenticeship programmes with partner companies such as BAE Systems, GE Aviation, and Virgin Atlantic.
When open in September, the college will train up to 600 apprentices, making it one of the biggest projects of its type in the area.
Dr Cable was enthusiastic about the site’s potential to transform the local economy. “Portsmouth and the Solent have faced tough times, but have huge potential to create new jobs and growth by building their strengths in areas like marine, high-tech industries, tourism and the creative economy.
“Intelligently-targeted Government investment is helping local training providers to keep ahead of the game. We will continue working in partnership with local leaders and businesses to support the economy, connecting firms with the individuals, networks and funding they need to reach new markets or tackle the skills gaps that hold them back.”
The Business Secretary met with local apprentices who are set to benefit from the new campus. He also spent some time with the directors of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the body charged with co-ordinating public and private sector investment in the local economy, including the Enterprise Zone.
Solent is not the only Enterprise Zone boosting skills in its local area. Last month saw the opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, a joint venture between Boeing and the University of Sheffield that will train the next generation of advanced manufacturing workers.