With almost £1 million pot of funding available to SMEs across East Riding for free training for employees, businesses are being encouraged to make a New Year’s resolution to invest in skills training for staff.
As well as motivating staff, training employees enables small businesses to increase productivity and the services that they can offer which in turn boosts growth.
Free skills training has been made available through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme delivered by Calderdale College. Regional Development Manager, Tammie Greenwood explains: “There are over 156,200 people of working age living within East Riding, which offers a huge source of potential talent and growth potential for businesses to take advantage of.
“But we know that some employers have reported that they find it difficult to recruit due to potential employees lacking qualifications, be it general skills such as IT or more specific to some of our key industries, such as renewable energy, food and agriculture, as well as manufacturing and engineering.”
The East Riding economy is relatively diverse, but is heavily dependent on small businesses. It is mainly rural with low population density and there are ongoing issues with finding and retaining appropriately skilled workers to support new investment and job creation in the area.
Tammie adds: “Having worked with businesses in the area to deliver skills training for staff we know that there are so many benefits that come from investing in training. With continued uncertainty over Brexit affecting business confidence, and the fact that there is funding in place for companies, now is the time to take advantage of the funding and make it New Year’s business commitment to upskill staff.”
Six major benefits that skills training can provide are:
1. The competitive edge: Training sits alongside management initiatives increasing productivity and enhancing the range of services that a business can offer. It can give SMEs in highly competitive industries the edge over their rivals, helping them to win new business, contracts or clients.
2. Increased confidence: When employees complete training and gain new qualifications, they have the confidence to take on more responsibility and step up into more challenging or diverse roles within the team. They also work more efficiently, boosting the overall productivity of the business.
3. Job satisfaction: Research has found that employees who feel encouraged and supported to develop their knowledge and skills not only work more effectively, but are also more satisfied in their jobs. This makes them positive role models for their fellow employees and great ambassadors for the business.
4. Employee retention: A more fulfilled, motivated and engaged workforce is a more loyal workforce, which means that employees are less likely to look for work elsewhere.
5. Growth: The knock-on effect of all these benefits is greater potential for a business to grow, not to mention the positive personal growth and development impacts for employees.
6. Future proof: By upskilling and training staff, a business is more resilient and better placed to withstand economic turbulence.
A report by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 43 per cent of businesses listed the cost of training as a major challenge and for many SMEs, a lack of time and difficulties meeting the cost of training courses can be a distinct disadvantage.
Tammie adds: “The free training on offer through the Skills Support for the Workforce project has been specifically designed to help overcome these training barriers and reap the rewards.”
Co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Skills Support for the Workforce funding is available to SMEs operating in all sectors, including Agriculture and Agritech; Bio Renewables and Bio-Economy; Food Manufacture; Construction; Engineering; Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise; Visitor Economy; and Health and Social Care, helping them to meet the cost of non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.
A wide range of flexible training courses are available, specifically designed to help SMEs across East Riding to upskill their workforce to fill the region’s skills gaps, in line with their business growth objectives.
SMEs interested in applying for the funding must act quickly as it’s only available until July 2018.
For more information about the courses on offer visit http://ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/areas/york-north-yorkshire-and-east-riding/, call 08456443753 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Figure taken from East Riding Data Observatory http://dataobs.eastriding.gov.uk/dataviews/tabular?viewId=312&geoId=24&subsetId=