Thirteen colleges are set to work together to better support the needs of the local labour market and the local economy in the Enterprise M3 LEP area and beyond.

The Government’s Strategic Development Fund project is providing vital investment in green and digital technologies, supporting staff recruitment and retention along with curriculum innovation designed with input from employers.

The project will help provide equipment and skills training needed for a future green economy and for jobs related to carbon reduction along with the aim of supporting small business growth.

Eight Further Education colleges in the EM3 area of west Surrey and most of Hampshire plus those in east Surrey, will work collaboratively with a focus on meeting the skills needs of employers and the regional economy. A further five Sixth Form Colleges will also benefit from the activity.

The project is being carried out with the full support of Surrey and Hampshire Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Gatwick Diamond Business and Business South. These valuable business networks will help ensure local businesses can access high-quality, technical education and training that meets local future skills.

Sparsholt College, near Winchester, will be leading the delivery of the £2.6 million government project, with Enterprise M3 LEP providing expert project management and administrative support.

The project will focus on:

  • Green land-based skills, to help combat climate change whilst making the best use of natural resources and assets – led by Sparsholt College Group.
  • Green construction skills to support retrofitting activity to decarbonise homes and buildings – led by Basingstoke College of Technology.
  • Green transport skills to help ensure motoring is a long-term environmentally sustainable and affordable mode of transport – led by Nescot.
  • Professional skills to support domestic and international growth in the sales of the area’s innovative products and services – led by Activate Learning.
  • An online Carbon Literacy course to make individuals better informed about the costs of climate change activities and empower them to make positive, behavioural changes to reduce carbon emissions.

EM3 Joint Managing Director Stephen Martin said: “EM3 is delighted to be supporting this project which has the potential to transform the provision of employer-focused skills in our area. This work on skills is critical to delivery of the EM3 vision to drive a low carbon, high growth economy across our area.

“Through our business-led Skills Advisory Panel EM3 has gained a strong reputation as the “go-to-place” for employers wanting to share their skills and recruitment challenges and opportunities with education and training providers. The Strategic Development Fund project will build on that work creating new opportunities for the current and future labour force and drawing on the significant assets and strengths of the region’s colleges.”

Louise Punter, Chief Executive Officer at Surrey Chambers of Commerce said, “We work closely with the consortium of colleges and celebrate this funding announcement that will help ensure local skills priorities are met to support sustainable economic growth for the region.”

“This collaboration brings together the business community and training providers to respond to the skills challenges, to share expertise, professional development and to simplify the skills landscape for employers.”

Julie Milburn, Chief Executive and Principal at Sparsholt College Group said, “We are delighted to be leading this longstanding consortium of EM3 colleges, now joined by Surrey Colleges to deliver on this exciting project. The extension of our membership will extend our expertise within the group and the range of learning materials that we will develop and share across the network. This project will provide for a significant investment in environmental technology to be used across the network, giving our young people the tools to both learn and master the use of these technologies for onwards benefit in their future employment.”

If you would like to know more about this project – including finding out how your business could engage and benefit, please contact

Alongside Sparsholt College, Activate Learning, HSDC (Alton College), Basingstoke College of Technology, Brooklands College, Farnborough College of Technology, Nescot, and Orbital South Colleges Group (East Surrey College) will be delivering. Local sixth form colleges, Esher College, Farnborough Sixth Form College, Peter Symonds College, Queen Mary’s College and Windsor Forest Colleges Group (Strode’s College) will all stand to benefit.