Businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are set to benefit from a multi-million pound scheme to up-skill their workforce.
A consortium of colleges and training providers has secured a £7 million funding package to help small and medium-sizes enterprises (SMEs) plug their skills gaps through free workplace training.
It is part of a major drive to bolster the labour market by responding to local skills needs.
The consortium – led by West Nottinghamshire College – includes Chesterfield College, Derby College, Central College Nottingham, New College Nottingham, North Notts College and training providers with sector expertise.
It has launched a wide-ranging project called Skills Support for the Workforce that offers job-specific courses to firms in areas covered by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – namely Derby city, Derbyshire, Nottingham city and Nottinghamshire.
The training, aimed at businesses with up to 250 employees, is for staff aged 19 and over who work a minimum of eight hours a week.
Courses are tailored to each business and are delivered on their own premises to reduce time spent off-the-job.
While the focus is on staff with low or basic skills, the project can also deliver intermediate and higher-level courses where there is an identified need, and programmes up to Level 4 for firms with less than 50 employees.
The project is fully-funded by the European Social Fund and the Skills Funding Agency, which means the training is free to businesses that are eligible for support.
Project leaders say the benefits to firms include greater staff productivity and efficiency, along with increased employee motivation and retention, which aids business growth.
Meanwhile, employees gain the skills and qualifications to advance their careers including the opportunity to progress onto apprenticeships.
Training is targeted at businesses operating in priority sectors set out by the LEP including biosciences; engineering and advanced manufacturing; hospitality and catering; retail and wholesaling; business and financial services; health and social care; transport, logistics and warehousing; tourism; digital media; construction; metal sectors; and education.
It is estimated almost 6,000 employees will benefit during the lifetime of the project, which runs until July 2015.
Skills Support for the Workforce project manager Steve Cressey said: “This multi-million pound funding package is great news for businesses and employees. Not only will the training enable those already in employment to enhance their skills, it gives employers the opportunity to strengthen their workforce to meet current and emerging needs.
“We’re working with some excellent providers, which means we can deliver a co-ordinated approach to employer-related training in a variety of sectors across a large geographical area.
“I urge any business interested in plugging their skills shortages to get in touch and find out more.”
D2N2 chief executive David Ralph said: “It’s important that employers are aware of the opportunities of offer, which is why we’re working with West Nottinghamshire College and consortium members to identify those that could potentially benefit from this support.
“The training is free to employers and could have a significant, positive impact on their business by developing the skills and competencies of their existing staff.
“This is about supporting SMEs across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and making a real difference to their chances of success and profitability, which ultimately helps to create further jobs, benefitting the economy and local communities.”
Businesses wanting to find out more should contact Louise Morton at West Nottinghamshire College on 01623 627191 ext. 8793 or email firstname.lastname@example.org