From education to employment


Colleges and Universities across Hampshire and Surrey are set to work together to better support the skills needs of the local economy and labour market.

The Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund project will offer more training opportunities in priority skills areas identified by local businesses and employers – giving them access to the skilled workforce they need to grow and prosper.

Building on previous collaborative activity, the project will help provide equipment and skills training needed in key sectors and in response to urgent calls from business for skills that are vital across the whole economy.

The project is being carried out with the full support of Surrey and Hampshire Chambers of Commerce, alongside Surrey and Hampshire County Councils and other business networks, to help ensure local residents and businesses can access high-quality, technical education and training that meets local future skills.

Sparsholt College Group, will be leading the delivery of the £6 million government project, funded by the Department for Education, and in response to the findings of the Local Skills Improvement Plan report, published by Surrey Chambers of Commerce.

The project will focus on:

  • Creative Technology: Investments in two new, state-of-the-art media production spaces to help respond to skills needs following recent growth in the gaming & immersive technologies and film & television sectors. Funding will create a 3D immersive space at Andover College that will enable whole classes to enter real life learning environments. History students could experience a WW2 battlefield, science students hear and touch the inside of a beating heart or be submerged on a virtual train crash to administer first aid.
  • Advanced manufacturing, engineering and construction: High value jobs in these sectors help us journey towards a low carbon economy. New facilities such as a Passive Low Carbon Technologies Centre, Welding and an Electronics workshops will help deliver the skills for these crucial jobs.
  • Digital: Recent reports have highlighted the seriousness of cyber security, the strengths of the local Space & Satellite sector, the opportunities of artificial intelligence and the impact of agri-tech on food security. Investments in this workstream will build on the successes of local digital clusters to capitalise on tech skills needed for a strong, low carbon, digital economy. At Sparsholt College, funding will see the development of a groundbreaking vertical growing environment. At the cutting edge of agricultural technology, this environment enables higher production rates and sustainable farming that significantly reduces carbon omissions and water usage.
  • Employability and Professional skills: Feedback from employers cites gaps in employability and professional skills, all fundamental to onboarding new employees and supporting their onward and future development. New courses will help plug these gaps. Funding will help development of an Interactive Careers Map for Sparsholt College, Andover College and Basingstoke College of Technology, that will allow students to explore many career possibilities in an immersive environment, this will show what study is like, experience working with employers and where potential future careers choices may take them

Julie Milburn, Chief Executive and Principal at Sparsholt College Group said:

“The LSIP funding marks a significant step forward in our commitment to cultivating a skilled, confident and adaptable workforce for the future. The collaboration of local colleges and universities, under the Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund project, exemplifies the power of unity in addressing the evolving needs of our local communities. This £6 million investment, is a testament to our dedication to providing training opportunities in priority skills areas, identified in consultation with local businesses and employers.

As we embrace advancements in Creative Technology, advanced manufacturing, engineering, construction, and the digital landscape, we are not just bridging skills gaps but laying the foundation for a resilient and innovative economy. Together, we are not just addressing immediate skill needs; we are creating a future where our workforce is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to thrive in a dynamic and ever-changing landscape.”


The collaboration of colleges and universities includes: Activate Learning, Basingstoke College of Technology, Brooklands College, East Surrey College, HSDC (Alton College), Nescot, Queen Mary’s College, The Sixth Form College Farnborough, Sparsholt College Group (Sparsholt Campus, Andover Campus and University Centre Sparsholt), University of Winchester, Windsor Forest Colleges Group (Strode’s College) and Woking College.

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