Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has opened its new head office with a pledge to help solve the skills issues regional employers face every day.
Business leaders, the Chamber management team and member representatives attended the launch in the Fareham College business centre, the new home of the independent membership organisation and ‘voice of business’.
Declaring the office open, Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman Ross McNally said: “This is all about championing growth for our members and strengthening the essential links they rely on between the worlds of business and education.
“By moving to this fantastic new business centre, we put ourselves at the heart of the facilities and solutions that will be involved in solving the skills gaps Hampshire businesses grapple with day in, day out. We are right here at the junction of business and skills growth.”
The business centre is on the College’s 22-acre Bishopsfield Road campus in Fareham and part of the wider ‘skillslabs’ project being delivered under the government’s Skills Accelerator programme.
The idea of skillslabs is that business centres such as at Fareham act as interactive hubs providing regional employers with access to the training they require.
In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, colleges and employers are being brought together to improve skills with particular emphasis on marine technology, digital futures and net zero.
An integral aim of skillslabs is to support the incubation and growth of SMEs and micro-businesses through space for coworking.
In line with this strategy, Hampshire Chamber has dedicated part of its new office as a coworking space for Chamber members to use.
Branded ChamberSpace, there are options for hot desking, booths for one-to-one and small group meetings, open plan working, breakout areas and board room facilities.
The offer includes high-speed connectivity, a smart screen TV for presentations, free on-site parking and access to canteen and catering extras.
Chamber staff were keen to emphasise to members attending the launch that ChamberSpace is ‘your space’.
The new office accommodates a core Chamber team of nine who work on international trade, membership services, marketing and events. And there is flexible working space for four more staff as required.
Special guests at the official opening included Andrew Kaye, Principal and Chief Executive of Fareham College, and Beverley Poole, the College’s Director of Business Centres, who leads on the skillslabs initiative.
Hampshire Chamber has moved to Fareham College after nine years at Wates House on Wallington Hill, two miles east in the town.
Peter Taylor, Hampshire Chamber’s President, said: “It is fantastic to have opened our doors and now officially celebrated our move to Fareham College.
“This is great news for our members, so many of whom have told us of the constant challenges they face in addressing skills gaps.
“It is only through improving the links between education providers and businesses that these issues can be tackled.
“Moving to the College business centre and supporting skillslabs shows our commitment to achieve exactly that.”