Skills training gives new depth to Northern Diver

A West Lancashire manufacturer and supplier of specialist diving goods is ready to plunge into growth thanks to help from a £5.6m skills and training programme being delivered across the county.

Northern Diver, located in Appley Bridge, has received help from Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce to enable five of its employees to access management training.

The funding provided through the programme has allowed Northern Diver to invest in up-skilling its workforce through a level 4 introductory diploma in management (CMI) qualification which was delivered by Runshaw Business Centre.

Julia Whittaker, who joined the firm as a logistics manager a year ago, manages a team of seven staff at Northern Diver and runs its warehouse and dispatch departments. The training means that Julia is now able to pre-empt how her team will react to change within the diving goods industry and manage their reactions.

Julia said: “The qualification has added to my existing people management skills. I’ve learnt how to understand the cultures within companies and introduce change. I find myself using the learning techniques on a daily basis and I feel that productivity and the team ethos has improved on the back of it. I am very interested in progressing and completing the level 5 course.”

Ian McLeod, general manager, is responsible for the training and development of all staff. He said: “We are always looking to develop our staff and promote from within and the CMI fitted this perfectly. Developing leaders through external training is key in the success of the business. As we expand and continue to grow within an international market, we must ensure they quality of work and capability of staff at all levels.

“We chose Runshaw Business Centre because we wanted to invest in our workforce with a reputable provider. Some of our team had previously completed Level 3 qualification at Runshaw so we knew the high quality of delivery. The team at Runshaw were proactive in advising us on further development courses that suited our needs.

“The Lancashire Skills Support funding has allowed us to assign more people on to the course than we had originally budgeted for, which we are grateful for as it allows more of our leaders to develop, better equipping us for our ongoing expansion.” LSS will support 3,817 employees aged 19 and over who are working in small or medium sized businesses and have a workforce of up to 250 employees. It will run until July 2015 – with places allocated to businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. The fund operates across the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area, which consists of Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen local authorities.