“The Solent needs a world-class workforce to attract new business, investment and growth” – That was the message from business leaders and education specialists at this year’s Solent Skills Summit which took place on Wednesday and Thursday (23rd & 24th September).
The two-day summit brought together the region’s communities to discuss skills successes over the past year as well as future skills needs in the region. The summit also included a day of activities to inspire the next generation to aim high through developing their STEM skills.
Day one saw business, training and education delegates come together at the new Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing HQ in Portsmouth as the Solent LEP launched an update to the Solent Skills Strategy.
Key priorities for the coming year include driving higher level skills, developing STEM skills and seeking devolution of skills budgets for the Solent to maximise the flexibility of resources available.
Sarah McCarthy Fry, Chair of the Solent Employment and Skills Board, said:
“Much has been achieved in the Solent over the last year, including the opening of the £12m CEMAST centre on the Solent Enterprise Zone and the establishment of funds to put employers in the driving seat of developing the skilled workforce they need.
“However, there are challenges ahead and it’s vital that the public and private sector work together over the coming years to address them. Our growth sectors will increasingly require higher level STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills and we must ensure we have a world class workforce that can meet these needs.”
The event also saw the launch of a Solent Enterprise Adviser network in partnership with The Careers & Enterprise Company. The LEP and The Careers & Enterprise Company are now seeking volunteers from the local business community to work with local schools and colleges to increase the opportunities young people have to engage with business.
Claudia Harris, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:
“We are delighted to be working with the Solent LEP in the first phase of this new network. The area has an exciting, innovative business base with huge growth potential and we want to work with these business leaders to inspire and support our next generation to ensure a bright future for both them and our economy.”
Day two of the Skills Summit saw the LEP begin the task of inspiring the next generation, as 140 local schoolchildren and college pupils met with the team behind the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car, which was unveiled to the public at Canary Wharf in London yesterday.
A replica of the car was on show at the CEMAST centre and the team held a series of STEM workshops where school children learnt exactly what it takes to create a supersonic car capable of breaking the land speed record, as well as try their hand at building and racing their own model rocket car.
Daniel Clark, a Year 9 pupil at Sandown Bay Academy, said:
“I really enjoyed the workshops and particularly loved seeing everyone’s rocket car builds. It’s made me want to build the real thing one day.”
Rob Bennett, Resource Development Manager at Bloodhound, said:
“It’s been fantastic to be here and inspire all these young people to take up careers involving science, technology, engineering and maths. They were really engaged and I have no doubt there are some rising stars of engineering among them.”
The Solent Skills Strategy Interim Evaluation is available now at: www.solentlep.org.uk/uploads/documents/16852.001_SLEP_Skills_report_A4_online_v3_.pdf.