Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a programme developed to upskill employees within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cornwall and IoS area. They provide recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses to enhance your employees’ skills, increase the competitiveness of your business and boost the local economy. The Cornwall College Group is part of Serco’s network of expert organisations chosen to deliver the SSW programme. SSW is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Blue Flame is one of the largest independent service, maintenance and installation heating companies in Cornwall. Founded in 1988, originally specialising in gas heating, they now provide gas, electric, oil, solid fuel, renewable and plumbing solutions and support for 12,000 customers across Cornwall.
Employing 108 staff from their base in Penryn, they support domestic and commercial customers, as well as landlords. Blue Flame have also been supporting one of Cornwall’s leading housing providers for 10 years and have worked alongside them to upgrade heating systems to make them more efficient and cost effective for the tenants.
Paul Smith, Director, is the key contact at the business for technical training and construction apprenticeships. Sally Mather, HR Co-ordinator, is the key contact at the business with regards all training for office staff.
For a number of years Blue Flame have run an awarding winning apprenticeship programme with Cornwall College and they have invested heavily in training for their trade teams. They took a decision in the past 12 months to undertake a training needs analysis of their office support staff, who provide a vital function for the business. They contacted Cornwall College who made them aware of the various opportunities available through the SSW project. Cornwall College worked with Blue Flame on a training needs analysis, which uncovered various soft skills and leadership & management training requirements. By undertaking this training the goal has always been to increase staff motivation and future proof the business by training staff to take on additional responsibilities. Without the support of SSW funding Blue Flame would not have been able to undertake training to the scale they have done over the past 12 months.
The training needs analysis focused on:
- Leadership and management skills
- ICT – an introduction to Excel
- Marketing – Search Engine Optimisation workshop
- Business skills – Time Management, Managing Performance and Finance workshops.
The training delivery is still on-going. So far Cornwall College have delivered a variety of training to 10 employees, including:
- Level 3 CMI Award in Leadership and Management - complete courses.
- Level 1 Excel Introduction - complete course.
- Level 3 Search Engine Optimisation workshop - taster session.
- Level 3 Managing Performance - taster session.
Cornwall College Business Advisor, Tom Lal said “Blue Flame is a fantastic local business that has grown from a relatively small start to becoming an industry leader with a great reputation. They have always valued training and investment in staff development, but they realised recently that there has probably been more of a focus on the technical and trade side of the business. This is natural because they operate in the gas industry, where engineers need to be highly skilled, qualified and experienced. They also need to hold a number of tickets in different areas in order to install, maintain and service gas equipment. This is statutory training that the business must invest in regularly.
The Blue Flame management team are conscious that office based support staff may sometimes feel that they do get the same opportunities in terms of training. Blue Flame value their support staff and the vital function they perform for the business, so whenever an opportunity comes along for them to look at training and development for this side of the business they seize it with both hands. The SSW project provided Blue Flame with the chance to undertake a comprehensive training needs analysis with the support of a training provider. Employees were encouraged to be honest about weaknesses and strengths in relation to their current job roles, but Blue Flame also looked at the personal development of individuals and how they could support any requests in this area as well. The benefits to this exercise and then following it up with training have been plentiful. For individuals it has demonstrated to them that the business values them and wants to support them with training in order to develop them, but also support them in their current job roles. Training also supports progression within the organisation and equips staff with the necessary stills to manage change. For the business, training will enable their staff to take on additional responsibilities, increase morale and reduce staff turnover.
Blue Flame recognises the value of training and the importance of staff development. The SSW project has supported them to provide training opportunities to all areas of the business. The end game is to future proof the business and the training will equip the support team with the necessary skills to manage the challenges ahead.”
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, as well as 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.”
To find out about accessing fully funded training for employees through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme businesses can contact us.