Skills programme to help growing Lancashire firms

Ambitious businesses across Lancashire can now apply for free support to help them gain the skills they need to grow.

The Growth Skills Assist programme has been launched by Boost Business Lancashire - the county’s £7.2m business growth hub - offering free and part-funded business support to growth-hungry businesses.

The programme has been designed to help over 400 key individuals in Lancashire’s businesses gain new leadership, management and operational skills which will, in turn, help their business achieve its growth objectives.

The launch comes after research carried out as part of Boost’s Lancashire Growth Forecast survey found 47 per cent of the county’s businesses had identified skills shortages as a potential barrier to growth in 2014.

Jane Houghton-Fenning, business development director for Community & Business Partners, said: “Many businesses with the potential for high growth get held back because they lack the skills they need to break through to that next level.

“It is often the skills of leadership, change management, customer retention and strategy that require development, not just the technical skills. Growth Skills Assist has been designed specifically with these businesses in mind and focuses on helping business leaders get to where they want to be.”

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council, said: “Skills shortages is something the region’s businesses have highlighted as a potential barrier to growth. We are listening to what the region’s business owners and entrepreneurs are telling us and Growth Skills Assist programme provides a solution to this.”

Growth Skills Assist is being delivered by Community & Business Partners which will work with eligible businesses to identify and provide training that will assist key team members. This will include improving or updating a current skill, or developing a new skill that will open up new growth opportunities.

The interactive workshops cover topics including leadership, sales and business development, marketing communications, change management and effective business planning.

Businesses are also urged to contact Community & Business Partners to discuss bespoke training that can be delivered onsite, at zero cost as part of the programme.

Boost aims to grow the county’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015. It is being delivered through a partnership between Lancashire County Council, Community & Business Partners, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Winning Pitch. £3.6m of funding has been provided by the European Regional Development Agency (ERDF). Businesses looking to sign up to the Growth Skills Assist programme can fill in an online form on the Boost website or call 0800 488 0057 to see if they are eligible.