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Devon and Somerset businesses to benefit from £2.5m skills training pot

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Devon and Somerset are urged to take advantage of a £2.5m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension.

The training is available as part of a programme named Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business manages across Devon and Somerset – working in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Since the programme launched in September 2016, 1,067 learners from 372 businesses across the region have taken advantage of the free training available, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency*. Serco has just been awarded a contract extension to continue delivering the programme until March 2019.

The programme aims to support growth across all sectors of the region’s economy by providing businesses, at no cost to them, with:

• Recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses aimed at enhancing employees’ skills and helping them to progress into Apprenticeships. Serco has partnered with local expert training organisations to deliver the skills training.

• Support to enable employers to take advantage of Apprenticeship opportunities that work for each business.

Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual units to support their work. These can include technical skills training and higher level skills such as leadership and management. Previous programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and improved employee loyalty and retention.

As part of Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service businesses can also benefit from a support, advice and brokerage service that will help them to:
 • Decide which Apprenticeships are right for existing employees

• Find a local Apprenticeship provider

• Find out what Government Funding is available

• Understand the implications of the Apprenticeship Levy to the business

• Solve recruitment challenges by explaining the services available on recruiting new apprentices.

Commenting on the contract extension, Rob Matts, Serco’s Head of Skills Support for the Workforce, said:

“We are delighted that the Education and Skills Funding agency are trusting Serco to continue making a positive impact to local communities in Devon and Somerset. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Devon and Somerset can take advantage of at no cost to them. Thousands of people have benefited from this programme already and I would urge businesses to make the most of the funding available before March 2019, so that they too can benefit from this investment in vital skills training”.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: “The LEP aims to help businesses grow and to generate rewarding careers for employees in the Heart of the South West area, and this fully-funded skills training does both.

“I hope many more employers will take advantage of the support on offer to help them up-skill their workforce and improve their productivity.”

Businesses can contact Serco on or 01752 968026 for more details and to find out if they are eligible for funded training and business support.

More details for businesses in Devon and Somerset here.

Serco also delivers skills training to SMEs (called Skills Support for the Workforce providing) in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, Swindon & Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, South East Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Stoke and Staffordshire.

*Figures correct as of 30 April 2018

Case study

Adopstar, based in Cullompton, is an advertising operations company with over 17 years’ experience in the online advertising industry. Adopstar are committed to supporting staff development as they see this as an integral part in growing the business, and have benefited from fully funded training through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme. Education + Training Skills (ETS) is an OfSted Outstanding graded training provider working with Serco to deliver the programme.

The training Adopstar received from ETS was flexible and tailored to fit their business and included courses in Time Management & Prioritising, Excellent Customer Service and Telephone Techniques, Assertiveness and Building Personal Confidence, Managing Individual Performance and Minutes of Meetings.

Theresa Benson, Managing Director at Adopstar said: “We saw this as an opportunity to help further develop the customer service knowledge and skills of our vibrant workforce, through vocational based training solutions.

“My team all thoroughly enjoyed the courses and ETS were always on hand to help whenever needed. It was really nice that staff could choose which courses they felt would benefit them the most. They all worked extremely hard on the units and it was great to see them all pass.

“To access this fully funded training has been a great benefit to my company and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

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