Dr Cable was in Southampton to launch two key schemes to improve skills and create sustainable employment, following on from new investment launched in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

He visited Eastleigh College to announce a new £550 million Further Education Capital Investment Fund to help improve college facilities across the country.

That investment will be targeted towards colleges in the greatest need of help to improve facilities, improve efficiency and save money in the long term. Colleges will be able to apply for funding through the Skills Funding Agency.

An extra £310 million for the Regional Growth Fund to create and safeguard jobs was also announced in the Autumn Statement. To date, £2.4 billion has been conditionally offered to businesses and intermediaries up and down the country – creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

The south coast has benefited from a number of different Regional Growth Fund projects and programmes. The Solent LEP has been awarded £2m from the Regional Growth Fund to roll out the second phase of the successful Bridging the Gap Funding programme to Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

Other beneficiaries of Regional Growth Fund awards for the area include:

  • Southampton City Council has been awarded a further £5.3 million Regional Growth Fund in support of the ‘Platform for Prosperity’ project bringing the total to £10.9 million. The project entails the improvement and upgrade of the road infrastructure outside Eastern Docks and is expected to create or safeguard over 800 jobs. The investment outside of the port by the public sector, has given ABP Ports the confidence to invest over £200 million within the port estate over the next few years bringing significant benefits to local enterprises that use the port.
  • Cobra Precision Engineering and Elite Care Homes are two of the first recipients of £100,000 of phase one of the Solent LEPs Bridging the Gap award. The grant will leverage close to £600,000 additional private investment and create and safeguard 12 jobs at the two firms.
  • The Solent Future’s project is a £13m Regional Growth Fund money investment from Round 3. Part of the funding will be utilised to ensure a sustainable future for the Advanced Manufacturing skills in the Solent workforce. This will bring together leading businesses, colleges and Universities at a world-class training centre on the Solent Enterprise Zone.
  • The Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust in Portsmouth secured £1.23 million of Regional Growth Fund to support two projects within the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth.
  • £750,000 will be used to develop the Cell Block Enterprise project which will support enterprise skills development and provide access to early stage funding with mentoring managed by the University of Portsmouth. The project aims to create over 440 jobs in the supply chain.
  • £475,000 will contribute to the development of the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) which combines heritage conservation with apprenticeships and other training to develop transferrable skills. The project has also had initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund which could result in a final grant of £3.9 million grant to help support the development of heritage skills for the future. Both projects will have a ten year economic life cycle.