Free skills training helps over 1,000 businesses in Tees Valley

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Programme is celebrating a major milestone in the Tees Valley region, having provided free skills training to a total of 1,285 businesses and 4,516 employees since it began in April 2019.

In the last year alone (April 2021 – March 2022), the programme has upskilled over 400 businesses and over 1,500 individuals through bespoke training designed to fill skills gaps, helping to turn business growth plans into reality. More recently, training has also supported local businesses who have been responding to challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since their employees have undergone training, 30% of business owners have reported actual growth in turnover, and 44% have reported an increase in productivity. After seeing the success of the training first-hand, 60% of employers now have plans to further upskill staff.

The SSW Programme has been developed to upskill employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses across the Tees Valley region. By identifying business’ individual skills needs, it helps to increase productivity and encourage growth through providing fully-funded occupational qualifications, training courses and personal development support.

Three years into SSW, the programme has spent approximately £7m supporting businesses in Tees Valley out of the available £10,395m fund, made possible through funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The training is delivered by Calderdale College – in partnership with specialist local and regional training providers – and is urging SMEs in Tees Valley to take advantage of the free training before the programme completes in March 2023.

Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme in Tees Valley, said: “As we enter the fourth and final year of the SSW Programme, we’re reflecting on the great success we’ve had. The team are so pleased to have reached the major milestone of having helped over 1,000 businesses in Tees Valley to upskill their workforces.

“While it’s been a tough few years for SMEs in many respects, meaning that it’s easy to put skills training on the back burner, we want to remind employers about the benefits that it can bring. Whether it’s boosting staff confidence and morale to improve staff retention, or helping them to identify additional revenue streams to increase turnover, the training is specially tailored to provide support in the areas that businesses need it most. And what’s even better is with SSW, it’s free!”

Skills Support for the Workforce is supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s been fantastic to see the positive results that the SSW Programme has had on our brilliant local businesses over the last three years, driving forward our economy and helping them to grow.

“If you’re a company in one of our key sectors – such as engineering, energy or business services – and you’re looking to boost your digital skills, lead your team more effectively or want to get a better understanding of the landscape across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, the SSW Programme has something for everyone. I’d encourage SMEs to check out what it offers and join the 1,000+ businesses already benefitting from its skills training.”

The SSW programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) – an EU established fund to help local areas stimulate economic development through skills and job creation. It includes leadership and management training, team working and vocational qualifications and technical skills support, as well as specialised courses across the region’s key priority sectors, including: Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Digital, Construction, Energy, Business Services, Retail, Life Sciences and the Service Sector.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training, please visit: https://ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/areas/tees-valley/

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