Fully-funded training helps sole trader reduce his overheads and boost profits

The Challenge

Having worked as a self-employed Domestic Energy Assessor since 2013, Geoffrey Bell of Saltburn-by-the-Sea in Tees Valley knew exactly what direction he wanted to take his fledgling business in. However, he also recognised that he needed additional training to help him stand out from the crowd in a competitive marketplace.

Geoffrey had already made a conscious decision to move away from working with boilers and installing loft insulation. Instead, he was keen to focus exclusively on issuing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) to domestic properties, which involves assessing their energy efficiency and rating them accordingly. Since 2007, anyone building, selling or letting a residential property has been required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate.

Geoffrey was particularly keen to forge links with letting agents as he knew that they could provide a regular source of work in his chosen field. However, in order to do this, he felt that he should boost his knowledge of the energy market by gaining a recognised qualification. As a sole trader, he hoped that this would also give him the edge over rival businesses competing for the same sort of work.

The Solution

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project offers fully-funded training courses to employees of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As well as helping businesses to plug any skills gaps they may have, training also boosts productivity and fuels growth. Co-financed through the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the project is open to SMEs seeking non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.

Research has found that employees who complete this kind of certified training are more satisfied in their jobs and work more effectively. Unfortunately, for many employers a lack of time and difficulties meeting the cost of training can act as barriers. The Skills Support for the Workforce project is designed to address these challenges.

Fully Funded Training

When Geoffrey Bell heard about Skills Support for the Workforce, he decided to apply for fully-funded training.

He explained: “During an initial consultation, my Skills Support for the Workforce advisor helped me to identify the main skills gaps within the business and enrolled me on a programme that directly met my needs.

Since attending the course, I’ve begun promoting my services to the lettings agents and landlords that I’m in contact with. I’ve been able to advise my clients about energy efficiency, as well as the new legislation coming into effect in April 2018 for rental properties.”

Geoffrey is hoping that the training he has received will help him secure more work, boosting the turnover of his business. He has also been able to put some of the energy saving measures that he picked up on the course into practice is his own office, helping him to reduce his overheads so that he can plough more money back into his business.

The course also gave Geoffrey ideas about other potential income streams to explore, as he explained: “The training has encouraged me to research the possibility of branching out into solar panels.

“I would recommend the training programme to others as I found it both useful and interesting. The training will help me to increase profits and reduce overheads.”

Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, the main contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, highlighted the benefits of the project: “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. This funding is only available until July 2018, 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, click here