Boost for technology on the Solent

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has joined forces with TechSolent in a dynamic new partnership to promote technology and digital skills in support of businesses in the Solent region.

The new partnership will enhance engagement with the region’s tech community and support businesses to make the transition in embedding the emerging digital and technical skills which are now essential for business success.

The Chair of the Solent LEP Board, Rachael Randall said: “This partnership is a proactive and exciting move which will enable the Solent region’s technology sector to flourish in the future, as well as helping all businesses make the most of technology in order to thrive.

“We aim to increase capability and widen inclusion for our tech businesses to allow them to grow. We plan to tackle the digital skills gap to boost pay, offer more opportunities, and help small businesses to digitise and thrive in this fast-developing sector.

“This announcement aligns with the LEP’s plans to establish Solent Partners, working with local industry, academic and civic leaders to promote the collective prosperity and sustainability of the Solent economy.”

The TechSolent and LEP initiative aims to embed technical competencies in business and to make it easier for businesses to find the support that they need to develop their technological capability. Together TechSolent and the LEP’s Growth Hub services will work to encourage and develop an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit among the Solent’s business community.

Emma Stevens from TechSolent said: “We are thrilled to partner with the Solent LEP to work collaboratively to promote and foster greater tech entrepreneurship, innovation, skills, business growth, and to provide support in the development of a vibrant tech eco-system for the Solent region.

“TechSolent connects, develops, and promotes tech communities in the region by building a network to address challenges, educate the community about tech initiatives and contribute towards the economic development of the Solent.

“We run networking and education events for tech businesses, academic institutions and local government to support skills development. Our partnership with the Solent LEP will allow us to work with them on events such as Immersive Days, Hackathons, the Digital Skills Partnership and Skills Bootcamps.”

This new agreement builds on an extensive programme of initiatives from the Solent LEP, who work with a variety of partner organisations across education and business to champion the region’s economic success by making sure it is in the best possible position to take full advantage of the opportunities available. The Solent LEP is committed to embedding the importance of tech and digital skills across all businesses. It also works to highlight opportunities for young people as they start to make careers and skills choices, initiatives that have been recognised nationally by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) as best practice.

One such programme is the Immersive Days that the Solent LEP has coordinated over recent months, seeing employers such as BAE, Balfour Beatty, and Teemil open their doors to secondary school students to showcase the various ways digital technologies are used across different industries. The LEP’s series of immersive days culminated in a TeenTech Hackathon taking place at Fareham College, with all students who attended Immersive Days, engaging again with employers, who showcased learning and career opportunities.

Other major programmes include:

  • Business Mentoring Programme, where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses from certain sectors, including tech industries, receive free support to develop their skills,
  • Digital Skills Partnership, in partnership with the Department for Science, Innovation & Tech, aims to improve digital skills for people and organisations and is designed to be inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of age, background, or experience level.
  • Skills Bootcamps, fully funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to support adults to retrain and upskill in local priority sectors, to respond to skills shortages and ultimately, support economic growth in the Solent.

The Solent LEP also leads the Tech Talent Taskforce, a collaboration of academia, local authorities, and businesses, looking at driving initiatives to tackle digital skills gaps and addressing the issue of technical skills availability as a strategic priority.

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