E. Park & Sons enjoy the honour of being one of the UK’s few remaining family owned potato businesses, with over 80 years’ experience supplying potatoes across the country. The company has developed a strong reputation for high standards of excellence and continues to build on its achievements.
As part of its future plans, the company hopes to maintain customer satisfaction whilst increasing market share through the growth of its customer base. However, the business currently faces an economic climate which has seen a surge in labour costs and potato prices within a very competitive market place. There is also a lack of availability of workers which has had an impact on the workforce.
In order to address these issues, Dean Bryant, Assistant Procurement Manager, looked to increase the skill sets of existing employees to improve staff retention and on-site safety, which will ultimately boost quality standards and efficiency.
The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme offers fully-funded training to employees of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As well as helping businesses to plug any skills gaps they may have, training also boosts productivity and fuels growth. Co-financed through the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the project is open to SMEs seeking non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.
Advisor Tracy Jeffrey, of DC Training, conducted an organisational skills analysis with the business, looking at short, medium and long term needs throughout the workforce before creating a training programme which included improving operational performance, industrial environment awareness, team leading and functional skills as immediate requirements.
Training was planned around the workforce’s shift pattern and peak periods in order to minimise impact on productivity. The programme also prioritised key skills development areas and ensured that all staff were offered the opportunity to engage in training appropriate to their roles within the business.
Dean Bryant, Assistant Procurement Manager, said: “DC Training also helped us identify opportunities for members of our staff to progress further after each course had taken place so that we can see clear outcomes of the training and next steps, to ensure we are continuing our commitment to upskilling and developing our workforce.”
Impact of Fully Funded Training
Dean Bryant, Assistant Procurement Manager, at E. Park & Sons added, “The training has already led to a huge increase in employee motivation across the factory to the point where some members of staff have continued their training with additional courses.
“We would recommend this programme to other small and medium sized businesses, because the benefits both short and long term to the business are easy to see. Each day we are noticing an increase in quality and productivity throughout the factory, and in the long-term we expect to see an impact on staff retention and improved production knowledge, reinforcing our pledge to invest in people and further their knowledge and skill sets.”
Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, the prime contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, highlighted the benefits of the project: “There is a wide range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help businesses grow. By training your staff, you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, nurture a leadership team for the future and make you an employer of choice for emerging talent.
“As this training is funded with European money, this is the last project of its kind. This funding is only available until July 2018, so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”
For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training, please click here.