Professor Ian Oakes.

Thousands of employees are to be given the chance to develop their knowledge, skills and career prospects as part of a new project supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Businesses will be able to access free training for their staff from training providers which are part of the Marches Skills Provider Network.

The £1.5m Employees Support in Skills project, funded by the European Social Fund, will be led by Riverside Training and delivered in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Marches LEP Skills Board Chair, Professor Ian Oakes, said that as well as giving employees a chance to further their training, the project will support those who are under notice of redundancy to develop the skills they need to secure further employment.

“The LEP’s activity is focused on tackling skills shortages and overcoming the barriers to getting and keeping a job.

“We have skills gaps in emerging sectors and an ageing workforce.  This project is an investment in tackling those issues. Small businesses, in a variety of sectors, such as construction, food & drink, health & social care and business and professional services will be able to benefit from the project and access this training for their staff.”

Training available includes apprenticeships at all levels; support to improve English, maths and IT skills; support for learners with disabilities and development of leadership and management skills.

Roddy Christie, Managing Director of Riverside Training, added: “Riverside Training is proud to be leading this project on behalf of the Marches LEP. For the Marches region to remain economically competitive the upskilling of the workforce is vital and SMEs are the key to success in this respect.

“We’ve engaged with the very best trainers across a wide range of disciplines in order to deliver the training that these businesses need to succeed and flourish.  We’re very much looking forward to watching employees and employers benefit from this.”

The Employees Support in Skills project contract was awarded by the Skills Funding Agency to be delivered in the Marches LEP region.  

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