The HAMPSHIRE Chamber of Commerce moved its headquarters to Fareham with the aim of defending and strengthening the links between the worlds of business and education.
After nine years based at Wates House in Wallington Hill, the chamber moved two miles west to occupy offices on the Bishopsfield Road campus of Fareham College.
And the business membership organization will become the “anchor tenant” when the College opens a new business center there in spring 2022.
Ross McNally, Managing Director and Executive Chairman of the Hampshire Chamber, said: “Our move to Fareham College will help us continue to improve member services while strengthening our strategic links with the education sector.
“Time and time again, SMEs and other employers talk about the ongoing challenges they face in filling skills gaps in their businesses.
“It’s true whether they’re in high-tech manufacturing, engineering, hospitality, retail, the creative industries or whatever.
“It is only through effective engagement between education providers and businesses that these skills gaps can be filled.
“Becoming the primary tenant of the new business center places us at the heart of the facilities and solutions that will be involved in solving the skills challenges facing businesses in Hampshire. ”
The chamber’s new location will house a core team of nine working on international trade, member services and events, and provide flexible workspace for four other employees. Fareham College is partnering with nine other colleges to launch the new business center, which received funding from the Department of Education’s Strategic Development Fund.
The others are Isle of Wight College, Eastleigh College, HSDC, Brockenhurst College, Southampton City College, City of Portsmouth College, Itchen College, Barton Peveril College and Lighthouse Learning Trust.
The aim is to create the first Solent business center specially designed to improve employers’ access to future vocational training, including technical education.
Beverley Poole, Director of Business Centers at Fareham College, said: “We already have a long and successful partnership with Hampshire Chamber.
“By welcoming the Chamber to our campus and to the College’s new business center when it opens, we can strengthen our common work for mutual benefit.
“From a college perspective, we can forge even stronger ties with the business world as the Chamber can take advantage of an exciting new space to conduct its activities, including event management, membership, support commercial and general information services. ”
The new business center is one of 14 projects across the UK under the government’s Skills Acceleration Program.
Its main objective, defined in the Skills for Jobs white paper, is to “research the skills, education, training and needs in marine technology, net zero and digital future”.
Employer groups such as chambers of commerce are specifically named in the white paper as strategic partners to help fill local skills gaps.
Each of the business center projects across the UK is expected to enable incubating, nascent, SMEs and larger businesses to grow.
At Fareham College, Hampshire Chamber will be able to develop membership, training and education offerings as part of the Skills Accelerator collaboration.
Future initiatives are expected to include business skills clinics, Junior Chamber projects and awards, and efforts to bring more girls into technical education.
The relocation of the Hampshire Chamber office was made easier by contributions from Portsmouth’s social enterprise, Recycled Assets Company.