Skills Support for the Workforce

Swindon and Wiltshire businesses to benefit from £5.1m skills training pot

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

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Swindon and Wiltshire are urged to take advantage of a £5.1m 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 Swindon and Wiltshire. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,376 learners from 454 businesses across Swindon and Wiltshire 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 provides a range of courses to the following sectors, which have been identified as key priority sectors by Swindon and Wiltshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP):


• Advanced Engineering and High Value Manufacturing

• Health and Life Science

• Financial and Professional Services

• Digital and Information and Communications Technology

• Construction

• Land Based Industries

• Visitor Economy

• Adult Health and Social Care

• Low Carbon Economy.


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


Sally Burnett, Skills Lead at Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Continuous development of the workforce is vital for any business to succeed in today’s competitive markets and we are pleased Serco will continue to manage this programme. The fact that Skills Support for the Workforce is fully funded means businesses can benefit from expert support for their employees, without having to bear the associated cost, which I’m sure small businesses in particular will appreciate.”


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 Swindon and Wiltshire here.


Serco also delivers this programme in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, 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

Garston is a privately owned independent Veterinary Group, currently with five small animal surgeries, equine and large animal and farm units. All out of hours patients are cared for by Garston’s own staff and with a dedicated night nurse team.


The company received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through WISE Ability, one of Serco’s chosen training providers, in Customer Service and Team Leading. This was at a time of growth for the business, and several staff were new to their roles, thus they were keen to benefit from this learning programme.


Cathy Appleton, Human Resource Manager at Garston said: “All qualifications are a Level 2; to date all of our employees have achieved their qualifications in the following vocational areas with all delivery taking place in the workplace:

  • 10 employees have achieved an NVQ level 2 in Customer Service
  • 9 employees have achieved an NVQ Level 2 in Team Leading
  • 5 progressions onto a unit of Level 3 Business and Administration
  • 4 progressions onto a unit of Level 4 Management
  • 4 progressions in Employment.


“We continually assess our training requirements within the organisation; we can contact WISE Ability at any time if we want new staff to work towards a qualification.


“We have found the experience invaluable to support the continuing growth of the business and development and motivation of the staff. Several staff have gone on to achieve further progressions within higher units and are better able to face the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

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