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Free training on offer for SME staff development in the Black Country

Up to £10 million is now available for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Black Country for training. The Skills Support for the Workforce project offers fully funded training to help SMEs fill skill gaps, raise productivity and boost business growth.

Staff development through professionally delivered training, offered at no cost to a business, can help to increase productivity, motivate and engage staff and improve employee retention.

“We offer a range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help your business grow,” explained Ebrahim Dockrat, Director of Calderdale College, the prime contractor for the project. “By training your staff you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, nurture a leadership team for the future and make you an employer of choice for emerging talent.”

Research has found that employees that undertake non-compulsory work-related training do their jobs better and are more satisfied with their work but a lack of time and possible costs can act as barriers to accessing training. The Skills Support for the Workforce project is designed to address these challenges.

Businesses across the country have already benefited from the training, as Christine Appleyard, Office Manager from Bioeconomy Consultants, the National Non Foods Crops Centre, explained: “We found the initial IT skills training programmes very useful for our team members and we plan to send more of the team on these and other programmes.

“As a small business it is vital we support our employees to develop the skills and knowledge needed to ensure the successful operation and ultimately growth of our business. This funding allows us to support training that we may not have been able to access. NNFCC has been able to access fully funded training in the areas of Excel Intermediate and Advanced skills, Introduction and Marketing and Report Writing,” added Christine.

The project is co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Skills Funding Agency and is available for SMEs seeking non-compulsory work-based training to support their business growth plan.

“As this training is funded with European money this is the last project of its kind,” explained Mr Dockrat. “This funding is only available until July 2018 and so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”

There are three million people of working age living within a 20 mile radius of the Black Country, offering a vast local labour resource and world-class engineering skills. However, there are challenges with a high share of the workforce with no or low skills and employers have reported that the current workforce is lacking in certain relevant areas, in particular technical skills. The Skills Support for the Workforce project may be ideal for these businesses.

Delivered by Calderdale College, the country’s largest provider of European Social Fund funded training, through local providers, the training is for businesses operating in Transport Technologies, including Aerospace and Automotive; Building Technologies and Construction; Advanced Manufacturing, including Engineering, Logistics, Food and Drinks; Environmental Technologies; Business Services; Visitor Economy in Dudley; Food and Food Technology in Sandwell; Health and Social Care in Walsall; and Creative and Cultural Industries in Wolverhampton.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training please visit

Alternatively, please contact Abbie Mellor-Cross, Marketing & Communications Manager, on 01422 399339.

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