Communities Secretary Greg Clark MP today [11th March 2016] visited the Solent to see progress on a £12.4m project to create over 1,000 new apprenticeship opportunities at Eastleigh College.
The Secretary of State saw construction underway on a new teaching block and visited the site of a new advanced technology block where construction is due to start shortly. The Secretary of State also took the opportunity to meet with students developing their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills in existing college facilities, which have already been refurbished as part of the investment package.
Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
It’s tremendously exciting; it’s great to see an investment on paper turned into practice. It is a fantastic facility for future generations of students. Workplace skills are hugely important, and what we see here are students learning fantastic skills that will prepare them for a rewarding and stimulating career.
The project is backed by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who are investing £9m into the project through the funds secured under the Local Growth Deal. This money has unlocked a further £3.4m investment being brought forward by the Eastleigh College.
Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP Chairman, said:
Getting people with the right skills is absolutely critical to Solent businesses and, if our company's do not have access to a world class workforce in the future, we will see productivity drop, innovation grind to a halt and jobs move elsewhere. This investment is all about protecting the future of our economy for the benefit of our businesses and local workforce.
The Solent is leading the way when it comes to investment in skills. We have already seen the opening of CEMAST at the Solent Enterprise Zone and our investment at Eastleigh is one of two new major skills investments we are making under our Local Growth Deal settlement, with work also underway on a £10.9m Centre of Excellence for Composites on the Isle of Wight in partnership with the Isle of Wight College and GKN Aerospace.
Jan Edrich, Principal of Eastleigh College, said:
We are delighted that the Secretary of Statehas been able to see first-hand the state of the art facilities being developed here at Eastleigh. The investment is critical to ensuring that the Solent's future workforce have the STEM skills our key growth sectors will need. Working with our partners at the LEP we have been able to greatly accelerate the delivery of this investment on the ground. Our students are already benefitting from the upgraded facilities and we are looking forward to opening the first of two new buildings to students later this year.
Further information on projects funded under the Solent Local Growth Deal can be found at www.solentlep.org.uk