Free training on offer for SME staff development in the Tees Valley

Over £2.1 million is now available for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Tees Valley for training. The Skills Support for the Workforce project offers fully funded training to help SMEs fill skill gaps, raise productivity and boost business growth.

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.

“We offer a range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help your business grow,” explained Ebrahim Dockrat, Director of Calderdale College, the prime contractor for the project. “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.”

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.

Businesses across the country have already benefited from the training, as Christine Appleyard, Office Manager from the National Non Foods Crops Centre explained: “We found the initial IT skills training programmes very useful for our team members and we plan to send more of the team on these and other programmes.

“As a small business it is vital we support our employees to develop the skills and knowledge needed to ensure the successful operation and ultimately growth of our business. This funding allows us to support training that we may not have been able to access. NNFCC has been able to access fully funded training in the areas of Excel Intermediate and Advanced skills, Introduction and Marketing and Report Writing,” added Christine.

The project is co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Skills Funding Agency and is available for SMEs seeking non-compulsory work-based training to support their business growth plan.

“As this training is funded with European money this is the last project of its kind,” explained Mr Dockrat. “This funding is only available until July 2018 and so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”

The Tees Valley is an important location for UK manufacturing and contributes £10 billion to the national economy. Recently there has been major investment in innovative new technologies such as subsea, biologics and energy from waste. However, there are significant challenges with a shortfall in terms of basic skills in the population with 13.1% of people having no qualifications compared with 8% nationally. More specifically the shortage of skills in the process and offshore sectors has resulted in a dependency on imported skills.

Delivered by Calderdale College’s External Funding Unit, the country’s largest provider of European Social Fund funded training, through local providers, the training is for businesses operating in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering: Digital and Creative: Chemical, Low Carbon and Energy; Logistics; Business and Professional Services; Culture and Leisure; and Health and Biologics.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training please visit

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