Skills Support for the Workforce upskills almost 1,700 Tees Valley businesses as programme ends

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Programme is celebrating having supported almost 1,700 businesses and almost 6,000 employees since April 2019.

As the programme draws to a close at the end of this month, it has achieved its aims of driving significant financial growth and productivity for hundreds of SMEs across the region through free, flexible skills training to hundreds of local businesses, including through specialised courses across Tees Valley’s key priority sectors.

Following completion of the training, 95% of employers felt that it had resulted in improvements in key areas of the business, with one reporting that thanks to the training, the business’s profits had already doubled.[1]

Another employer commented: “The whole scheme has added value to my business and I would strongly recommend Skills Support for the Workforce to any other business.”[2]

The training was delivered by Calderdale College working in partnership with specialist local and regional training providers and was made possible through funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme in Tees Valley, said: “After four years of working closely with SME employers to understand their skills and training needs, we’re absolutely delighted with the feedback and results generated. Across the programme’s duration, employers have been hit with some very challenging economic conditions, from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, and we’re proud to have played our part in helping them to build business resilience, navigate through these challenges and stand themselves in great stead for the future.

“We want to say a special thank you to the specialist regional training providers who have worked with us throughout this process, without whose hard work and determination these fantastic results would not be possible.”

The Skills Support for the Workforce Programme is supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Closing the skills gap right across our region is one of my top priorities – and this programme has gone a long way to give local people the skills they need to access jobs over the past four years.

“We’re helping bring huge amounts of investment, particularly at Teesworks, to the area and there’s plenty more on the way, with more good-quality, well-paid roles to match.

“Skills Support for the Workforce was brilliant, and we must build on this and continue to support local employers to invest in the potential skills of their current workforce and those of the next generation.”

The SSW programme was co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) – an EU established fund to help local areas stimulate economic development through skills and job creation. It included team working and vocational qualifications and technical skills support, as well as specialised courses across the region’s key priority sectors, including: Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Digital, Construction, Energy, Business Services, Retail, Life Sciences and the Service Sector.

[1] Tees Valley Employer Survey, February 2023

[2] Tees Valley Employer Survey, February 2023

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