Stoke Staffs LEP
£5.5m of skills training for small businesses available now
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£5.5m of skills training for small businesses available now

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are urged to take advantage of a £5.5m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension.

The training is delivered as part of a programme called Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business is managing across the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,310 learners from 393 businesses in Stoke and Staffordshire have taken advantage of the funded training available. Serco has just been awarded a contract extension to continue delivering the programme until March 2019.

Serco supports growth across all sectors by providing basic skills training including literacy and numeracy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), employment skills such as communication and team working, and vocationally specific qualifications. Intermediate and higher level skills training is also available in the following sectors, which have been identified as key priority sectors by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP:

  • Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing (includes Applied Materials, Auto/Aero-Engineering, Med-Tech, Agri-Tech, Energy)
  • Other Manufacturing
  • Tourism and Leisure
  • Professional and Business
  • Digital and Creative Industries
  • Health & Social Care
  • Construction
  • Retail
  • Education
  • Logistics and Distribution.

Businesses operating in these sectors can access funding for training courses such as IT, leadership and management, as well as vocationally-relevant training (depending on the sector).

To deliver the programme, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training organisations to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses, aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of the businesses.

Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual units to support their work. The courses, which can take place at the employees’ workplace, range from a few hours’ training, to units of NVQ or other qualifications. Programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and businesses have reported improved employee loyalty and retention.

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 Stoke and Staffordshire. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Stoke and Staffordshire 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”.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE, said: “Developing a skilled workforce is vital in creating a flourishing local economy and enabling our businesses to grow.

“Skills Support for the Workforce provides an impressive range of programmes, from basic skills to specialist retraining, which are of real benefit to small and medium sized businesses and which are helping to create a well-qualified, enthusiastic workforce, bringing more and better jobs to our area.”

Businesses can contact Serco on or visit for more details and to find out if they are eligible for funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce.

Case study

Goodfish are an injection moulding and tool making company based in Cannock. The company were interested in accessing training through Skills Support for the Workforce in order to empower their employees and prepare them for further growth. Working with PTP Training, one of Serco’s chosen training providers, they identified the need to upskill staff in IT, management and leadership, and customer service. Goodfish enrolled 20 of their team on over a dozen different courses including an ILM Management Course, Customer Service, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Polly Kendrick, Operations Director at Goodfish, said: “I’ve heard lots of positive comments from staff members who have completed the training. They feel it has made them more confident in their job role and improved their performance. Some staff have already taken on additional responsibilities and one participant has been promoted to Quality Manager.

“We found the risk assessment training particularly beneficial and as a result of this training we have had discussions about how to improve our own forms and staff are now more proactive about risk assessment and identifying potential hazards.

“I would recommend other businesses to see if they can access fully funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce to empower and upskill their workforce.”


The project value is up to £5.5m. It is co-financed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England ESF programme. Established by the European Union, ESF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, skills development, job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit