Skills Support for the Workforce

Funded training supports staff development and growth for Dorset based company

Celebration Crackers Ltd is a progressively growing company based in Dorset, with a team of unrivalled cultural diversity, employing over 30 local people. As a design led manufacturer, it produces high quality and bespoke crackers which are sold both nationally and internationally.

Discussions with Best Training, part of Serco’s training providers, about the anticipated expansion of Celebration Crackers, led to the opportunity to talk about how Skills Support for the Workforce could provide employees with structured and targeted training and development.

Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a programme developed to upskill employees within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SSW provides recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses to enhance employees’ skills, increase the competitiveness of businesses and boost local economies. Serco delivers the programme through a network of expert skills training providers on behalf of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). SSW is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The support enabled Celebration Crackers to offer training packages to employees in all departments, focussed on their individual needs.

Following a detailed analysis of people’s personal and business objectives along with their existing skills levels, several training options were delivered; from personality profiling workshops to the whole company at its annual away day, to small group Excel training at the training provider’s premises, and from statutory Fire Marshall training to a Leadership programme for Heads of Department to support them with the progression of their teams.

The Leadership programme incorporated small group training and workshops. These enabled the eight Heads of Department and Directors to work together on building strong capabilities, an understanding of the importance of, and a consistent approach to:

• Leading effective teams including elements of emotional intelligence

• Understanding performance management

• Managing individuals’ performance

• Communicating information and knowledge

• Planning for change.

These Level 4 courses were held at Celebration Crackers in Poole, where all participants worked together with the Programme Leader, Tom Lund, to take team and individual development within the business to the next level.

Jo Neil, HR and Staff Development Manager at Celebration Crackers Ltd said:

“The variety and scope of Skills Support for the Workforce training has been fantastic. As a small (but growing) company we have been able to benefit from some targeted employee training and progression, which has also afforded us the opportunity to mix departments and cross develop our staff. The holistic approach to continued professional development has been widely appreciated across the business.

“On a personal level I have found the Leadership training to be invaluable – we have a variety of experience and personality profiles within our Heads of Department and having guided time together developing our understanding of Leadership issues and challenges has benefitted us all. As a company this has been a significant progression for our team.

“As HR and Staff Development Manager I have found the sessions extremely enlightening. I have learnt a little about myself and a lot about my colleagues. The Leadership Programme has also enabled me to gain a greater appreciation of how peers perceive what I do and how I manage others. It has reinforced my areas of strength and highlighted areas for review to sustain continual improvement.”

Celebration Crackers has grown in employees from 9 in 2014, to a current total of 31. Such diversity and growth has necessitated new team development, specialism within the company and a rapid ability within the Heads of Department to be able to delegate. The training provided resulted in positive impact as employees have been empowered to take on greater responsibilities. The skills learnt have enabled them to deliver the requirements of a growing business and also provided them with opportunities for personal growth.

Several of the team at Celebration Crackers have been promoted within the last 12 months and these opportunities are positively received, acting as a catalyst for continued professional development across all departments. The intention is to maintain the momentum and continue to sustain growth to provide progressive opportunities for all employees.

To find out about accessing fully funded training for employees through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme, businesses can contact Serco

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