Case study: Retaining staff and creating long-term job opportunities through fully-funded skills training

The challenge

Many businesses, particularly those within the construction and manufacturing sectors, have found themselves struggling to retain staff due to the disruption caused to the industry by the pandemic, as well as the after-effects of Brexit.

Due to ongoing instability in the labour market, senior management at Transwaste – a company based in Melton, East Yorkshire, which specialises in waste recycling and the sale of aggregates – was struggling to recruit staff with the required skills training in areas such as the operation of machinery, including forklifts.

The business therefore became increasingly reliant on employing agency workers on short-term contracts, however it couldn’t offer them permanent positions as they didn’t have the developed skills required for the role.

As well as needing to address the business’ challenges of skilled staff shortages and its difficulty retaining quality staff, team members who had been with Transwaste for a number of years also required a refresher on elements of the business including health and safety, to ensure that they set the highest of standards and avoided injury on-site.

The training

In previous job roles, health and safety manager Ryan Holland had worked closely with D C Training, one of the specialist training providers working with Calderdale College, which oversees the delivery of the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Programme in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. SSW offers fully-funded training for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to upskill workforces in the region.

Ryan understood first-hand the positive impact that training can offer businesses, particularly in terms of equipping staff with skills to help them secure long-term employment. He got in touch with D C Training about SSW and after taking an assessment of the skills present within the workforce, he worked with them to develop a programme of courses that would help to plug skills gaps.

Overall, 70 members of staff undertook various courses depending on their existing skills needs, including Manual Handling, Industrial Environment Awareness, Mental Health First-Aid, Emergency First-Aid and Fire Marshalling. Some members of staff also completed nationally recognised qualifications in Health and Safety to ensure that they were fully aware of operational risks across all areas of the business.

The training was delivered in a classroom environment and then, where relevant, staff would go on-site to test what they had learned in practice. Thanks to the training’s flexibility, the senior management team was able to balance the delivery against staff workloads to ensure that there was no disruption in workflow.

Outcome

Staff turnover at Transwaste is now lower than it’s been in years, as Ryan reports that employees now feel more settled in their roles and able to complete a wider variety of tasks within the business, which has improved their job satisfaction.

The training has also prompted employees to consider their long-term future with the business, with 14 members of staff either being promoted to supervisory roles or receiving a permanent contract with Transwaste.

As Transwaste was able to address skills gaps more quickly through SSW than it otherwise would without having fully-funded training available, the business is now well-placed for the next stage of its growth, which includes attracting new clients and hiring additional staff to support this.

Transwaste has also benefitted from having a consistent workforce, both in terms of building strong client relationships and also boosting morale among the team. It plans to continue to invest in staff to help them grow their knowledge base, feel valued by the business and ultimately progress in their careers.

Commenting on the success of the training, Ryan said: “We’ve seen a huge positive impact from investing in our staff through external training. Most notably, it has helped them to understand their opportunities for progression within the business and to feel more motivated, as their workload is now more varied and they are able to take on additional responsibilities.

“In addition, having a highly-skilled workforce means that we can now better plan ahead and assess risks, helping us to save time and money. As we gear up to expand the business, we’ll definitely be exploring more opportunities to provide staff with increased job security and reassurance through Skills Support for the Workforce.”

Success from skills training

The SSW programme has helped over 1,460 employed people in the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding area, with over 450 SMEs, including Transwaste, having taken advantage of the opportunity.

Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding, praised Transwaste, adding: “It’s fantastic to see the benefits that the SSW programme has provided for Transwaste, particularly in terms of enabling staff to progress from short-term, agency work into long-term, stable employment. The last couple of years have caused lots of uncertainty for many businesses, but we have the tools available to help them face their future with confidence. And best of all – it’s free!”

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