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    The Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, the Rt. Hon. Anne Milton MP, visited Fareham College last week to learn about the £2.8m Local Growth Fund investment from the Solent LEP into the college’s £4.1m Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC).

    Knights Brown is one of 11 major civil engineering and construction businesses in the Solent region who have helped make the new civil engineering training complex a reality. During her visit the minister hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from the businesses, who discussed with her the future skill requirements of the Solent region and the UK economy more broadly.

    The CETC is home to the Civil Engineering Groundworks Apprenticeship (CEGA), which is the result of a unique collaboration between Hampshire employers, the CETC, and the Solent LEP. Designed by industry for industry, CEGA has been established to specifically tackle the growing skills shortage faced in construction.

    The first intake of 40 students has recently completed the 20 weeks site preparation programme and are now beginning work on site for the remainder of the two-year programme. Knights Brown has employed three apprentices from this first intake and will continue to deliver a pipeline of talent into the business at the same rate for the foreseeable future.

    Sarah Whittle, HR Manager with Knights Brown said:

    “For me, this highlights the importance of continuing the good work we do in schools promoting great careers in construction. Apprentices should be viewed as a really good alternative to the university route. Employers like us have a responsibility to ensure that opportunities in apprenticeships continue to grow.”

    Mark Wells, Chairman of the Solent Civil Engineering Employers’ Group, said:

    “The new training centre is good news for apprentices and students, good news for employers and good news for our local economy. As a group, we came together because we recognised the importance of making sure we had access to a skilled workforce. Our collaboration with Fareham College and the Solent LEP has been very productive and I look forward to seeing the new CETC being built.”

    Anne Marie-Mountifield, Chief Executive of the Solent LEP said:

    “The new Civil Engineering Training Centre will have a major impact on improving the essential skills required to underpin all kinds of construction and infrastructure development, including housing, commercial, industrial, transport, public sector projects and the £244m worth of capital investment the Solent LEP is making across the area. Our investment at CETC will also represent a further stage of development at the Solent Enterprise Zone.

    “The approach to apprenticeships at the site will be truly ground-breaking, with courses designed by leading employers to ensure apprentices have the practical skills and certifications needed to start work. Those completing their qualification at CETC will be guaranteed a job with one of the group’s employers.”

    The college currently teaches over 1,500 full-time learners, 1,000 part-time or adult learners and a further 1,000 apprentices. Student employment prospects at Fareham College are exemplary, with 98% of students and apprentices, of all ages, progressing to positive destinations that include employment, apprenticeships or further study.

    CETC is the second flagship investment in skills awarded to Fareham College by the Solent LEP. Over 1,665 apprentices will be trained at this centre over the next five years. The purpose-built facility will offer first class training facilities that are designed to meet the future workforce requirements for civil engineering and construction businesses in the south.

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