Worcestershire businesses to benefit from £3.4m skills training pot

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Worcestershire are urged to take advantage of a £3.4m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension.

The training is delivered as part of a programme called Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business is managing across Worcestershire. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,294 learners from 232 businesses across Worcestershire have taken advantage of the funded training available. Serco has just been awarded a contract extension to continue delivering the programme until March 2019.

Serco provides a range of courses to the following sectors, which have been identified as key priority sectors by Worcestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP):

• Advanced manufacturing
• Cyber security & defence
• Agri-tech / agri-food
• Visitor & destination economy
• Businesses requiring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) qualifications.

Businesses operating in these sectors can access funding for training courses such as IT, leadership and management, as well as vocationally-relevant training (depending on the sector).

To deliver the programme, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training organisations to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of the businesses.

Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual units to support their work. The courses, which can take place at the employees’ workplace, range from a few hours’ training, to units of NVQ or other qualifications. Programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and businesses have reported improved employee loyalty and retention.

Commenting on the contract extension, Rob Matts, Serco’s Head of Skills Support for the Workforce, said: “We are delighted that the Education and Skills Funding agency are trusting Serco to continue making a positive impact to local communities in Worcestershire. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Worcestershire can take advantage of at no cost to them. Thousands of people have benefited from this programme already and I would urge businesses to make the most of the funding available before March 2019, so that they too can benefit from this investment in vital skills training”.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Skills Support for the Workforce programme has already benefitted many businesses across Worcestershire with training and support, helping companies to raise the skills of their workforce and to become more productive as a result. Serco have done a fantastic job in delivering this programme and I am delighted that they will be able to continue this initiative.”

Housing Partners are a thriving and growing business that develops software solutions for social housing provider organisations. As part of this growth the company have recently recruited more staff. Housing Partners received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Business Development Midlands Limited (BDM), one of Serco’s chosen training providers.

BDM worked closely with Housing Partners’ senior management team and helped them to set out a bespoke management training strategy with a particular emphasis on developing their team leaders who play a vital role in the company. Their core complement of team leaders have already completed a Level 2 unit focusing on skills of leading a team, developing a work team and effective team member skills – all made possible through the support of BDM and the SSW programme.

Dawn Churchley, Head of HR and Talent Development at Housing Partners said: “This initiative came at exactly the right time for us as we expand which puts an increasing emphasis on ensuring a robust team ethos with everybody pulling in the same direction. Our team leaders are a critical part of this process and following their training we are looking to progress them all onto a Level 3 course to enhance their team working skills even further. The process of undertaking a Training Needs Analysis with BDM was also a really valuable process and I would recommend this initiative to any business who need to develop their management capability.”

For more information, and to find out if your business is eligible for funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce, contact Serco on skillssupport@serco.com or visit their website here.