The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Programme is celebrating having upskilled a total of 392 businesses and 1,225 employees across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding since it began in April 2019.
The programme has been extremely successful since its launch and received an additional £1.2m of funding in March 2020, meaning businesses can now take advantage of the free training until 2023.
The 50% contract increase came at a crucial time for many businesses who were having to respond to challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Between March 2020 and March 2021, 119 businesses and 447 individuals have been able to upskill staff through the free training, helping them to build business resilience, support staff at risk of redundancy and identify alternative revenue streams.
Since taking the training, 79% of business owners expect to see increased turnover, while 55% have said that they expect to reach new markets.
The SSW Programme is developed to upskill employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. By identifying business’s individual skills needs, it helps to increase productivity and encourage growth through providing fully-funded occupational qualifications, training courses and personal development support.
In addition to workplace training, SSW also offers a range of online training and qualifications, so that training can be delivered in a way that suits the business.
The training is delivered by Calderdale College in partnership with York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (YNY LEP) and specialist local and regional training providers.
Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding, said: “We know first-hand how difficult the past year has been for many SMEs, so to have provided training to over 100 businesses across the region at no cost to themselves, to help them build resilience, stay afloat, and even grow and expand, is fantastic.
“The programme’s flexibility is its biggest strength, which has been especially important in this last year, and it’s meant we have been able to adapt courses to be taught online to combat social distancing measures and the increase in working from home. We’ve also been quick to react to what businesses need, which has included introducing a redundancy support package to help employers to improve their teams’ future career opportunities by developing existing skills or re-training to start a new career path.”
She added: “By offering free skills training, we can not only provide a much-needed boost to individual businesses and their employees, but also help stimulate the economic recovery of the region as a whole.”
Jude Knight, Senior Skills Strategy Manager at the York and North Yorkshire LEP, said: “As restrictions lift and businesses begin to fully reopen, it’s good to know that training from SSW has helped business owners and their staff to feel more confident and prepared for their return to normality.
“It’s been a particularly tough time for many employees’ mental health, but skills training can really help them to feel confident in their roles and be prepared for any challenges that come their way. Thanks to programmes such as SSW, businesses across the region can now face their future head on, secure in the knowledge that they have the tools they need to succeed.”
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 LEP’s six priority sectors: Bioeconomy, Food Manufacturing, Construction, Engineering, Voluntary and Community, Visitor Economy and Health and Social Care.
For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully funded training, please visit: http://ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/areas/york-north-yorkshire-and-east-riding/.
Notes to Editors
Skills Support for the Workforce project
The project is receiving up to £3.71 million of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding. The project is also co-financed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and is available for SMEs seeking non-compulsory work-based training to support their business growth plans.
Calderdale College is one of the providers of European Social Funded training within the UK. Calderdale College has worked with over 250 training providers across Yorkshire and Humber, the North of England and the Midlands. Through our networks of approved training providers, we support people to learn, achieve and progress. For more information visit: https://www.calderdale.ac.uk/external-funding-unit/.