"The Skills Support for the Workforce programme provides businesses in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding with an opportunity to face their future with confidence."
Helen Howland, Calderdale College
Following the successful upskilling of employees at hundreds of businesses in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding, the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme has secured a further £1.2m of funding to support employers to empower their staff and turn their business growth plans into reality.
The 50% increase in the contract means businesses and their employees can take advantage of free skills training until 2023.
Since April 2019, SSW has helped over 900 employees and 300 businesses in the region to successfully fill skills gaps to achieve their business goals, including increasing sales revenue and boosting staff morale to reduce absenteeism. The extra funding also comes at a crucial time for businesses in the region, who may require additional support following the impact of Covid-19.
The SSW programme was developed to upskill employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. It is designed to help identify and meet individual businesses’ skills needs by providing fully funded occupational qualifications, training courses and personal development, aimed at increasing productivity and encouraging growth.
In addition to workplace training, SSW offers a range of online training and qualifications to provide maximum flexibility for businesses and employees during normal business operations, supporting employees on furlough and employees at risk of redundancy or recently made redundant.
The training will be delivered by Calderdale College in partnership with York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (YNY LEP), through specialist, local and regional training providers. The programme will include leadership and management training, team working and vocational qualifications and technical skills support, as well as specialised courses such as social media marketing and resilience and recovery in business.
Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce programme in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding, said: "Over the last few months, a large number of businesses in the region have found themselves in an uncertain position, as they have had to pause their operations or have seen a reduction in sales interest. However, the Skills Support for the Workforce programme provides these businesses with an opportunity to face their future with confidence.”
She added: “The programme’s flexibility is its greatest strength, as it allows us to work with businesses to identify their specific challenges, creating a free, personalised training plan that will allow them to rebuild, recover and grow. This funding is vital for not only filling the existing skills gaps within the region, but also helping businesses that have suffered as a result of Covid-19, including those going through restructuring.”
The Skills Support for the Workforce programme will continue to focus on delivering skills training to support the region’s key priority sectors, including: Bioeconomy, Food Manufacturing, Construction, Engineering, Voluntary and Community, Visitor Economy and Health and Social Care.
Jude Knight, Senior Skills Strategy Manager at the York and North Yorkshire LEP, said: “The programme’s extension could not have come at a better time. The pandemic has created many challenges for businesses within the region. Thanks to the free skills training from the SSW programme, this gives businesses options to upskill their workforce, improving productivity at a critical time.”
She continued: “By offering free training provided by specialists, we can help our SMEs recover and support their ambitions to grow, as well as stimulate the economic development of the region as a whole.”
Harrison Hire and Sales, a business specialising in the sale, hire and servicing of industrial cleaning machines, based in Malton, recently took part in the free training and the business is already seeing positive results.
Owner, Anne Harrison, commented: “Thanks to the SSW programme, we were able to renew our very important Safe Contractor Certification for free. The confidence of our employees has been boosted as a result of the training completed, including the "Award in Industrial Environment Awareness" and "Transferring Materials". The team is now working more efficiently, which all helps to maintain our reputation for excellent service and attract new clients."
The SSW programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) - an EU established fund to help local areas stimulate economic development through skills and job creation.
For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training, please visit: http://ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/areas/york-north-yorkshire-and-east-riding/.