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Cheshire & Warrington SMEs are being encouraged to upskill their workforce

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Up to £4 million in funding has been offered to SMEs in Cheshire & Warrington through the Skills Support for the Workforce project, to upskill their workforce with fully-funded training.

Upskilling staff across a range of sectors is beneficial for the whole company; as well as benefiting and empowering employees, it enables small businesses to raise productivity and boost business growth.

Skills Support for the Workforce’s Regional Relationship Manager, Helen Rice, explains: “There are around 795,200 people of working age living in Cheshire and Warrington, a region which offers particularly strong industry knowledge in engineering, energy and business services sectors.

“However, over the next ten years demand for skills in Cheshire and Warrington is forecast to rise significantly, driven by economic growth, the delivery of major projects and replacement demand.

“Now is the time to upskill staff but unfortunately for many SMEs, a lack of time and difficulties meeting the cost of training courses can prevent them from being able to do so. A report by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 43 per cent of businesses listed the cost of training as a major challenge.

“The free training on offer through the Skills Support for the Workforce project has been specifically designed to bridge the skills gap within the region and overcome the training barriers small businesses face.

“By encouraging employees to work towards these fully-funded, bespoke training courses and professional qualifications, SMEs can enjoy a range of benefits.”

Five major benefits that skills training can provide are:

  1. The competitive edge: Not only can training help increase productivity and enhance the range of services that a business can offer, it can give SMEs in highly competitive industries the edge over their rivals, helping them to win new business, contracts or clients.
  2. Increased confidence: When employees complete training and gain new qualifications, they have the confidence to take on more responsibility and step up into more challenging or diverse roles within the team. They also work more efficiently, boosting the overall productivity of the business.
  3. Job satisfaction: Research has found that employees who feel encouraged and supported to develop their knowledge and skills not only work more effectively, but are also more satisfied in their jobs. This makes them positive role models for their fellow employees and great ambassadors for the business.
  4. Employee retention: A more fulfilled, motivated and engaged workforce is a more loyal workforce, which means that employees are less likely to look for work elsewhere.
  5. Growth: The knock-on effect of all these benefits is greater potential for a business to grow, not to mention the positive personal growth and development impacts for employees.

Co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, a wide range of training courses are available, specifically designed to help SMEs in Cheshire and Warrington upskill their workforce to fill the region’s skills gaps, in a range of areas including motor vehicle, retail, construction, STEM, engineering, tourism and hospitality and low carbon helping them to meet the cost of non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.

SMEs interested in applying for the funding must act quickly as it’s only available until Spring 2018.

The project is led by Calderdale College – one of the country’s largest providers of training offered through the European Social Fund.

For more information about the courses on offer visit http://cheshirewarrington.fundingunit.org.uk, call 08456443753, or email funding@calderdale.ac.uk.

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