Calderdale College has secured an additional £5.7m from the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to help SMEs across three UK regions upskill their workforce and support growth.

The cash was secured on the back of the successful delivery of Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), an ESF-funded skills project that was launched in 2016, managed by the college and a partnership of 250 training providers across seven UK regions.

This additional pot of money means the college can extend the programme in Tees Valley, Greater Lincolnshire and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding to provide further support and focus on supporting businesses with skills training to help them grow and develop their operations to increase productivity.

Employers in those three regions will be able to benefit from the fund, which will run until March 2019, and support sectors identified as crucial to the fortunes of the regional economies, such as engineering, agriculture, tourism, digital and health and social care.

The programme will deliver a range of courses ranging from general business training such as using Excel and bookkeeping through to specific technical courses such as an NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery (QCF) or Safe handling of chemicals.

The cash boost comes after the college secured over £30m of ESF funding to launch the SSW programme in 2016 across seven regions. Since then the money has benefited over 4,000 businesses, while 17,320 individuals have gained new skills through the additional training.

Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, said:

“The additional funding means we can really focus on working with the Local Enterprise Partnerships to tackle crucial barriers these regions are facing. 

“This fund has been invaluable in being able to get to the heart of the skills problem affecting SME productivity across the UK and helping create employment opportunities, tackle vital skills shortages and generate more value for the regional economies in key sectors.

“Securing the extra funding means we will be able to extend that reach and support to even more businesses, helping them to achieve their growth plans by offering them the opportunity to upskill employees through free training and improved productivity.

“We know that businesses in these areas are growing, and there are exciting opportunities ahead, and we are looking forward to continuing to support them by delivering this programme for another nine months.”

A number of businesses have already benefited from the training, including Epworth-based E. Park and Sons Ltd.

Through SSW their employees undertook a programme of training which included Improving Operational Performance, Industrial Environment Awareness and Team Leading and Functional Skills courses to increase the skill sets of existing staff and improve staff retention and on-site safety.

The training has had an impact on staff motivation throughout the company to the point that other staff have now taken up the opportunity to engage in the range of different training available. The firm anticipate that as a result, it will also improve quality standards and efficiency which, in turn will help the business grow.

Ebrahim Dockrat adds:

“When you hear how businesses like E. Park and Sons Ltd are benefiting, it shows that investing in workforce development is a smart move for any business wanting to secure its future and remain competitive.”

Clare Hughes, skills manager at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said:

“The proportion of our working population with no qualifications is higher than the national average, and the most prominent gap is within our 16-34 year olds. To help combat this, we really need to focus on inspiring and supporting our workforce to upskill.

“We know that businesses across a range of sectors in the area are growing, and there are exciting opportunities ahead, so we want to help employers and their employees prepare by providing fully-funded training opportunities through our Skills Support for the Workforce programme.”

About the Skills Support for the Workforce project: The project is receiving up to £38.5million of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations.

About Calderdale College: As the country's largest provider of European Social Fund funded training, Calderdale College has worked with over 250 training providers across Yorkshire and Humber, the North of England and the Midlands. Through our networks of approved training providers we support people to learn, achieve and progress.


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