The first of its kind in the region to be driven by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) skills priorities, the project, led by Leeds City College, offers free support to small businesses to help them enhance their employees’ skills and develop their career prospects while driving up productivity. The scheme is backed by the LEP and benefits from £11.8m of funding from the European Social Fund, which is being made available through the Skills Funding Agency to finance training for people in employment.
Tom Keeney, Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber for BT, who chairs the project’s strategic group said: “99.5 per cent of businesses in the Leeds City Region employ less than 250 people - they are the engine of our economy and improving their employees’ skills will improve their businesses, create jobs and deliver growth and I urge every small business to get involved.” Providing free support is one of the key benefits of the project which means employers can enjoy the benefits of trained staff without having to invest their own funds.
The project focusses on providing training to employees who are aged 19+ in small and medium enterprises and microbusinesses in a range of priority skill sectors including business & financial services, care, construction, digital technology, education, health, life sciences logistics, low carbon industries manufacturing and retail.
A large network of specialist providers is on hand to deliver accredited training at various levels, dependent of the needs of the employer. In addition to providing learning opportunities that lead to qualifications, the Response project can also enhance employees and businesses with specialist interventions in leadership and management skills, action learning groups, succession planning and mentoring, business intervention and analysis techniques, development of augmented learning tools, rural business engagement and export and global trade expertise. This activity will continue to develop as emerging needs are identified.
The project also offers the opportunity to develop new training and resources which meet the exact emerging business needs of employers across the region. Through the Local Response Fund, the project can work with employers to research & design bespoke support packages.
Project Director at Leeds City College Jennie Beaumont said: “The College is delighted to be involved in taking an active role in supporting the continued growth of the Leeds City Region economy. We ask that companies who have a training or development need come forward and take advantage of this wonderful offer.” Project Partnership Manager, Nat Lindo added “We are aware that only a third of small and medium enterprises in the Leeds City Region access training and this is a real opportunity for more companies to come on board and take advantage of free training to address current skills gaps.”