4 million pound cash boost

Businesses across the Staffordshire region are set to benefit after a successful bid by Stoke on Trent College means it can offer them free training for their staff.

The college has been able to access £4 million from the European Social Fund, which aims to improve the skills of the workforce and help people gain skills to improve their career prospects.

Andy Greenhough, Director of Employer Engagement at the College, said: “We submitted the bid in January, and now we have been successful we have until 2015 to help all kinds of small and medium sized businesses both reskill and upskill their existing workforces.

“When you’re a small business you’re often too busy dealing with the day to day, but this money gives them the opportunity to work with us to train for where they want to be tomorrow.

“The project is very exciting and unique because it’s so flexible and bespoke, whereas previously such funding programmes were tied up in endless bureaucracy.

“We have already begun work with the local business community and LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) to identify employers who want to undertake training. We will then go to those companies to do a training needs analysis before putting together a tailor-made training programme for them. This could cover anything from training in website design to communication skills.

“It can simply be training, or even advising, and the ideal scenario is that we work with employees to make them more employable, with the ultimate goal of them getting a full qualification.

“What’s important is, particularly in small businesses, if you take the time to train someone there’s an immediate positive impact on your business right away and they can really see the rewards.”

Sara Williams, Chief Executive of North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great to see the college finding opportunities to support businesses.

“As we come out of recession, capacity and productivity can be serious issues for businesses. Having free training, led by businesses’ needs, will help enormously.

“We look forward to working with the college on new ways to encourage companies to take advantage of this superb offer.”

For more information about this training scheme, or to find out more about taking on an apprentice in your business and other training opportunities, contact the college on 01782 603603 or visit www.stokecollege.ac.uk

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