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Specialist Skills Support Programme


The Specialist Skills Support Programme will deliver a programme of fully and/or part funded activities to support businesses and their employees, enabling them to take advantage of the opportunities for growth and increased prosperity in the York, North Yorkshire, East Riding region.

Support delivered via this programme is due to end on 31st July 2022. To access this support, you can contact

The Programme is part funded by the European Social Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020, and will be delivered in Partnership by Calderdale College, University of York and NYBEP Ltd.

Support available includes:

Specialist Support for an Ageing Workforce

Fully funded consultancy support to help businesses address current and future shortfalls in skilled labour due to an ageing workforce, as well as support for employed individuals aged 50+ to remain economically active for longer. The support will help businesses develop and implement an ageing workforce plan that will:

  • Identify the crucial skills and experience which could be lost through retirement
  • Develop the skills of lower and middle managers to enable them to step up to these roles in the future
  • Put processes into place to prevent future skills gaps when current middle managers reach retirement age
  • Mentor lower and middle managers to support them in gaining the experience needed

Consultancy will be provided to support the business in implementing the ageing workforce plan and mentor training will also be available to support the older managers in how to mentor the younger managers.

Attracting and Retaining Graduates

A programme of fully funded support for businesses looking to attract and retain graduates including:

  • Access to a ‘tool kit’ of advice and guidance on writing job advertisements to attract graduates, induction processes and development
  • A rolling programme of development days for up to 2 graduate employees addressing soft skills gaps often identified as significant deficits for early career graduates by employers such as; negotiation skills; dealing with conflict; business appropriate communication; commercial awareness
  • Informal networking opportunities for the graduates

Changing National and International Markets

Fully funded consultancy support to help businesses take advantage of opportunities presented by changing national and international markets. Delivery will specifically address the following challenges to business:

  • how businesses establish and expand in new domestic and international markets
  • how to develop new strategies and business models to drive performance and productivity
  • structural changes in the international economy
  • changes in institutions of global governance of international trade
  • the challenge of doing business in emerging markets

Inclusive Recruitment Processes

A programme of part funded support provided to businesses to enable them to review their recruitment practices to ensure that they are open and fair for all including disadvantaged groups. This support will consist of:

  • A one-day workshop that will explore how their current recruitment practices compare to ‘best practice’ open recruitment practices and de-mystify some of the barriers to recruiting from disadvantaged groups
  • Consultancy support to help the business to implement the changes

Capacity Building for Employees

A programme of part funded activities to support employees who are either on in-work benefits, newly recruited, female, aged 50+ or graduates, to increase their potential to progress in work, thus increasing their earning potential. This support will consist of:

  • Initial assessment & Individual Learning Plan development
  • Information Advice and Guidance
  • Accredited full Level 2 or below, or a unit of a level 2 or below qualifications
  • Accredited full Level 3 or above, or a unit of a level 3 or above qualifications
  • Non-accredited bespoke skills training
  • Delivery of accredited basic skills in English and Maths, from Entry Level to Level 1
  • Support from a Skills Coach

Women in STEM and Digital Industries (Connect, Develop, Achieve)

A programme of fully funded activities to assist women to develop within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and Digital businesses in order to meet future demand by supporting the upskilling and growth of female employees across these sectors. Support will include:

  • Peer to peer Mentoring - Pairing STEM Champions/Ambassadors with new or recently employed female STEM practitioners to cascade retained knowledge to empower the future workforce
  • Network meetings, workshops and masterclasses sourced by STEM Champions or sector experts and facilitated by a Network Coordinator
  • Skills building sessions
  • Company immersions - full day company visits for either individuals or small groups that offer insight to wider organisational activities

Where a need is identified there may also be signposting to a range of part funded training and qualifications.


In order to be eligible for support through this programme the following must apply:

  • The business must have a business premises in the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding region (Craven, East Riding, Harrogate, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, York)
  • The business must be a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME): employ fewer than 250 full time equivalent staff and have either a turnover of less than €50 million, or a balance sheet of less than €43 million
  • Activity must be delivered in the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding region
  • Participants must be aged 18 or over, and have the legal right to live and work in the UK


To access this support, or for more information you can email:, or call our Business Engagement Adviser, Adrian O’Neill on 07974 604848.