Skills support project off to a flying start

More than 850 employees in Lancashire have already benefited from a £5.6m workforce training programme aimed at businesses in Lancashire, just a month after it launched.

Smith JonesLancashire Skills Support for the Workforce (LSS) aims to support 3,817 employees aged 19 and over who are working in the county’s small and medium sized businesses.

So far the project, being delivered by Lancashire County Council with support from 14 education and training providers in the county, has seen 195 businesses receive a free training needs analysis and 868 people have started receiving training.

Training has been completed in areas including team leading, management, accounting, marketing, sales, health and social care, customer service, engineering, manufacturing, catering and hospitality.

Owen McLaughlin, chair of the Lancashire Skills Board and vice chair of the Lancashire LEP, said: “Lancashire Skills Support was our response to businesses across Lancashire telling us that skills gaps were the biggest barrier to their growth. We only launched the project in September, but the reaction we’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly positive with hundreds of employees receiving training and gaining new qualifications.

“Businesses should view this as a real opportunity to upskill their workforce to achieve their growth plans.”

One business that is already benefiting from support is Burnley-based Smith Jones Solicitors, which was able to put 12 of its staff through customer service training.

Ann-Marie Bradley, HR manager at Smith Jones Solicitors, said: “We are already reaping the rewards of this training through great customer feedback, increased efficiency and productivity. The fact that the training needs analysis and subsequent training was delivered to us for free makes it all the better. We would recommend Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce to any business.”

Businesses qualifying for LSS receive a free training needs analysis with eligible employees then accessing free accredited training from leading providers based on their skills requirements.

Training available through the scheme includes a mix of basic and higher level skills, leadership and management skills, as well as technical and industry specialist qualifications.

While all small or medium enterprises are eligible to apply, the programme is aligned to the growth ambitions of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It is particularly keen to attract businesses in aerospace, advanced engineering & manufacturing, energy, environment and low carbon, financial and professional services, creative and digital, leisure, tourism and visitor economy, health occupations and professional, scientific and technical occupations.

The programme is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The LSS delivery partnership currently comprises Accrington and Rossendale College, Age UK Lancashire, Blackburn College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Joint Learning, Lancashire Adult Learning, Lancaster and Morecambe College, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College, Preston's College, Runshaw College, West Lancashire College, and VIA Partnership.