Skills Support for the Workforce

Small businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly urged to take advantage of free skills training

26th Jun 2018 Skills Support for the Workforce
People sitting at desk

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly are urged to take advantage of fully funded skills training for their workforce, before the March 2019 deadline.


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 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,480 learners from 892 businesses across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 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 by providing basic skills training including literacy and numeracy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and employment skills such as communication and team working. Intermediate and higher level skills training is also available in a range of subjects such as IT, leadership and management. Vocation specific qualifications at basic, intermediate and higher levels are also available in sectors such as Marine, Tourism and Digital, to name a few.


In addition to businesses, individuals can also benefit from the programme directly if they are self-employed or unemployed due to redundancy and requiring higher level skills.


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 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 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”.


Paul Massey, LEP Board Director and Chair of the Employment and Skills Board, said: “Skills Support for the Workforce provides bespoke training for employees as well as individuals to meet the skills training needs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. We are pleased that Serco will continue to manage this programme, promoting a well-trained, motivated workforce and helping to boost the competitiveness of our region and ensure alignment with our employment and skills strategy.”


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

More details for businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly here.


Serco also delivers this programme in Dorset, Swindon & Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, South East Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Stoke and Staffordshire. In Devon and Somerset Serco delivers Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service.


*Figures correct as of 30 April 2018


Case study

Blue Flame, founded in 1988, is one of the largest independent service, maintenance and installation heating companies in Cornwall.  They employ 108 people and provide gas, electric, oil, solid fuel, renewable and plumbing solutions and support for 12,000 customers across Cornwall.


The company received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Cornwall College, one of Serco’s chosen training providers. Cornwall College helped Blue Flame to set out a bespoke training strategy with a particular emphasis on developing their management support team.


Paul Smith, Blue Flame’s Training Director, said: “For 30 years training has played an integral part in our business success. We view training as vital for the continued success of our team, which directly boosts the business as a whole. From apprentices to leadership team, we pride ourselves in developing our staff. It ensures that we are prepared for business challenges and puts us in a strong position for the future.


“Management and leadership training is an important component in ensuring we futureproof our business. This training was specifically aimed at the management support team to help them increase their knowledge to be able to support both their teams and liaise with senior management in driving the business forward.


“As a result the training has helped us to drive increased productivity, manage logistical planning and resource issues, manage supply and demand and drive better profits.”

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