Skills Support for the Workforce

South East Midlands businesses to benefit from £6.1m skills training pot

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

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in South East Midlands are urged to take advantage of a £6.1m 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 South East Midlands (eligible areas are Aylesbury Vale, Cherwell, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, South Northamptonshire, Northampton, Daventry, Kettering and Corby).


Since the programme launched in September 2016, 1,214 learners from 220 businesses in South East Midlands 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 South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP):


• Manufacturing and advanced technology, including food and drink

• High performance technology, including aerospace and motorsport

• Arts, heritage, sports, visitor economy, cultural and creative

• Logistics and its supply chain.


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 South East Midlands. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in South East Midlands 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”.


Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) added: “Ensuring local businesses have the workforce with the skills fit for the future is a key pillar of the work SEMLEP is doing to support and promote economic growth across the South East Midlands. This EU-funded project, delivered locally by Serco, will provide bespoke training packages directly with business owners and therefore has the potential to make a huge contribution to assisting businesses to up-skill their employees in areas specific to their needs, helping them achieve strong growth for their future.” 


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 South East Midlands.           


Serco also delivers this programme in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, Swindon & Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, 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

Wadys Electrical Ltd is an electrical mechanical building services company established in 1959 and based in Bedfordshire. Their customers include a mixture of commercial, domestic, educational and health related businesses. The company wished to improve staff development and retention and needed employees to be up to date with current training needs and standards of the constructions industry. MD Doug Wady was keen to access the fully funded support available from Skills Support for the Workforce to help achieve that goal.


SR Partnership, one of Serco’s training providers in the area, worked with Mr Wady to complete a training needs analysis and as a result provided a wide variety of training courses that included non-regulated health and safety training within the construction industry, performance management appraisals, customer service and conflict, and risk assessment to name a few.


Attending the courses has enabled Chris May, Contract Manager at Wadys Electrical, to have a managerial insight into how and why things are done and also given him new ways to explore his role within management. He said: "The courses were informative and well run. I’ve learnt some new things and also re-enforced things I already know. I would definitely recommend SSW and the courses to others." 


Back to all news