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3,000 employees in the Black Country benefit from free skills training

Over 3,000 employees in the Black Country have benefited from free skills training in the last year through a programme to support SMEs raise their productivity and boost business growth.

More than 600 businesses, working across a range of sectors, have benefited from £3m of funding invested so far through the Skills Support for the Workforce initiative.

Funded by the European Social Fund, the project delivers bespoke training plans and a range of skills-based courses to businesses, which is critical to the ongoing rejuvenation of the regional economy.

Technical, leadership and customer-facing skills are among the most popular training themes sought - with the construction, manufacturing, engineering and health and social care sectors taking advantage of this programme, which requires no financial outlay to a business.

Ebrahim Dockrat, Director of External Funding at Calderdale College, the contractor overseeing the Skills Support for the Workforce project in the region, said:

It is hugely encouraging to see what has been achieved in the second phase of this programme with over 3,000 people across the region benefiting from the opportunity to develop their skills. We’ve seen evidence of businesses and employees alike benefiting greatly from the training they have undertaken. We hope that this inspires other companies to do the same and utilise the remaining £6.5m of funding. The only investment required is time, and the courses can be flexible in order to work around the needs of businesses so that the training suits them and everyone can benefit from it. With the huge infrastructure developments taking place across the region, it is incumbent upon businesses to have a skilled workforce that can meet the anticipated scale of economic growth in the Black Country.”

Ninder Johal, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board member, said:

We are so pleased that Skills Support for the Workforce has made such a fantastic impact having delivered training across 600 businesses, involving 3,000 employees. It is essential that businesses do what they can to make themselves and their staff more productive so that they stand out. The competitive environment is increasing and for the region to compete globally, the need to upskill and train existing workforces is crucial. We would urge businesses that have not yet benefited from the Skills Support for the Workforce programme to apply before it comes to an end. The training incurs no cost to the business, it can be tailored to suit the business and be hosted on or off site.”

The fully funded courses are available to SMEs in the Black Country, and there is a £6.5m pot of funding remaining to take advantage of.

Not only can training help increase productivity and the services that businesses can offer, it also motivates and engages the workforce and, as a result, improves employee retention.

Research has found that employees that undertake non-compulsory, work-related training do their jobs better and are more satisfied with their work. However, a lack of time and potential costs act as a barrier to accessing training, challenges which the Skills Support for the Workforce project is designed to tackle.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce, please visit


For more information please contact: Chloë Matthbury or Jenny Wilkinson at Aberfield Communications,,, 0113 8800 444.

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