Career progression has been in Priscilla Spooner’s sights for some time. Having worked her way up from apprentice to manager at Limelight Hair and Beauty, in Warrington Priscilla, now wants to develop her options. However, funding a career development course can be a challenge for an individual working in a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).
The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project offers fully funded training designed to help SMEs fill skill gaps, raise productivity and boost business growth. In fact, up to £4 million is now available for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cheshire and Warrington for training.
It is co-financed through the European Union’s European Social Fund and Skills Funding Agency and is available for SMEs seeking non-compulsory work-based training to support their business growth plan. Training is available to businesses operating in any sector. Nevertheless, businesses in Cheshire and Warrington’s key employment sectors will be prioritised for support, including Finance and Professional, Health and Social Care, Visitor Economy, Retail, Energy, Manufacturing and Engineering, Logistics, Transport Planning and Sciences.
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. 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.
Fully funded training
Priscilla has nearly completed her six months’ training as an apprentice assessor. “I started as an apprentice seven years ago and now I manage the salon. This seemed the next logical step for me,” explained Priscilla.
“I’d looked into it before but the training was very expensive; now it’s fully funded, which is great. It’s provided me with an excellent opportunity to take my career to the next level. There’ll be other people, similar to me, who want to progress but who don’t realise there’s help out there to access this kind of training.”
The Assessing Competence in the Workplace qualification is available through Warrington Collegiate, with students from a wide range of sectors participating, including elderly care, child care, catering and hairdressing.
Course tutor, Paul Lloyd explained the benefits of the course: “This is a six months’ course that is designed to help students develop skills to become an assessor in their own field. As assessors they will then be able to pass their expertise onto the younger generation.
“I do take people out of their comfort zones and I do challenge them because we want our students to be competent and able to deal with any situation that may arise when they leave here. Instead of throwing them straight into the role of an assessor this course allows them to see what it’s like and to consider whether the role would be for them,” added Paul.
Ebrahim Dockrat, Director of Calderdale College, prime contractor for the project highlighted the SSW benefits: “We offer a range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help your business grow. 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.
“As this training is funded with European money this is the last project of its kind,” added Mr Dockrat. “This funding is only available until July 2018 and so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”
For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training please visit http://ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/