Stoke Staffs LEP
Why everyone needs to contact the Skills Hub now
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Why everyone needs to contact the Skills Hub now

Five minutes with the Skills Hub’s Suzanne Quinn

Covid 19 was the economic crisis nobody saw coming and has changed how we’ll all work in the future. Whether your business has been hit hard by COvid-19 or thrived, you need to think about upskilling your staff now to not get left behind.

’You often don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to skills. We can help.”

That’s the message from Suzanne Quin from the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce who heads up the LEP’s Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub.

She spent five minutes with Bitesize to explain why the next thing business leaders need to think about now because of Covid-19 is skills training, and how most people have got it wrong when they think that it costs the earth.

So, what is the Skills Hub?

It’s essentially the first port of call for sole traders to SMEs to get a bespoke skills and training plan together and get links to skills providers – all for free from our qualified career advisors. We’re unique in that we can recognise the skills a business might need, match to providers and part fund it in most cases.

Many training packages are already fully funded, but we can pay up to 48% (up to a maximum of £5,000 of the bespoke training packages we put together for our SME clients.”

Many businesses are struggling with cash flow at the moment. Why is now the time to invest in skills and training?
Simply put, invest now in your staff to keep them. Yes, many members of the workforce are now finding themselves at least needing to learn and feel comfortable to successfully remote work, but many are also having to learn completely new skills to cover the roles that other colleagues, who’ve sadly last their jobs, used to do. It’s about skills, but it’s also about confidence.

To invest in training says that there is a future to your business, in the eyes of your employees.

Hasn’t all training stopped because of Covid-19 and social distancing?

No – the vast majority of our 50 delivery partners are effectively delivering training on line. And it works. But where face to face training has to happen, that’s happening following government safety guidelines.

What can you do for businesses that are struggling?

Businesses that are usually seasonal will struggle if they can’t extend their usual peak times. We can help businesses to be more sustainable, adapting new models and diversifying into new markets – this all takes a new skill base and training.

And if you’ve got a lot of staff on furlough, it’s about making sure that they feel OK to do the job when they return. Most people don’t know that you can get funding to train staff on furlough!

Some businesses are doing really well because of coronavirus. Why should they invest in skills now?

Businesses that are doing well and doing really well – almost to the point of not being able to sustain it sometimes. Skills in customer service, the customer journey and efficient use of CRM and accountancy packages to help streamline processes are all essential to keep that boom happening, and not burn-out staff.

But it’s about what’s best for that business – we’re all about bespoke at the Hub so every business will be a skills need that we can help with.

What myths are out there about skills?

It’s a myth that skills training costs a lot. Our approach is to first look for fully funded training for the client – so many don’t pay anything at all. For those that need bespoke training packages, costs to the client can range from just 5% of the total cost. We can pay up to 48% of the total cost up to £5,000 – that’s a lot of training.

How much and what else have businesses been investing in recently?

Understandably businesses have been investing less, but still recognise the value of training even now – so the rough average is around £900 after we’ve helped them with as much funding as we can.

Many businesses have been coming to us for training in online marketing and sales methods – there’s been a definite shift, but we’ve also been supporting businesses that want to upskill their staff to work comfortably and successfully with home and agile working, and even to help workforces to think differently in terms of what the world of work now looks like.

Businesses are waking up to the fact that people in offices all together is unlikely to be in the norm in the future, so it’s about helping with that too.

What do I do to get more help now?

When you ring the Skills Hub you’ll talk with a skills advisor, consider structures and business plans and our team will help you to identify the skills and training gaps that are there – which you might not be able to see yourself. We’ll then send an action plan outline multiple options for you. It’s quick and easy – and the advisors will take you through step by step.

Sign up to the FREE Skills Hub webinar to find out more – Wednesday 15th July, 2pm – The importance of training to help your business grow – and how to cover the costs!

Get in touch with the Skills Hub now on 0300 600 1066