Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a programme developed to upskill employees within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Swindon and Wiltshire. 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. Wiltshire College is part of Serco’s network of expert organisations chosen to deliver the SSW programme in partnership with Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). SSW is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Interview responses by John Churchill, Proprietor
What is the company and what do you deliver?
Churchill Gardens; garden maintenance and landscaping
I founded the company three years ago, and rapidly gained customers in the local area, to the extent that I was able to take on other staff on a part time basis two years ago.
Which training are you currently or have you recently completed?
- NPTC Award in the safe application of pesticides using pedestrian hand held equipment
- NPTC Level 2 award in Chainsaw Management and Crosscutting
- NPTC Level 2 award in felling and processing small tress up to 380mm
- NPTC Level 2 award in felling and processing small tress over 380mm
- HABC Level 2 award emergency first aid at work.
What did you think of the support Wiltshire College gave to you?
Wiltshire College provided a high level of support throughout. Staff communicated with me clearly about available courses, organised my applications, issued clear joining instructions and followed through effectively. Overall, I was very happy with the level and quality of communication from Wiltshire College
How did the funding help you access the course?
The ESF funding made it possible for me to take courses that I would otherwise not have been able to afford, due to the financial demands of my growing business, which has been resource and capital hungry at the start up phase.
How has the training influenced the workforce?
Personally the course I have taken have equipped me with new or enhanced skills that are highly relevant to the work I currently do and to move into new areas (for instance work that I can do in the winter months, normally a lean time in gardening). It has allowed me to take on additional work that I can bring in my staff to take on creating new opportunities for employment and income for all of us. On occasions it has also allowed me to pass on work to independent subcontractors and to instruct and supervise them in an informed and authorities way.
How has or will this course impact upon your future development?
The broader range of skills I have gained through the ESF courses are helping me to plan and define where my business is moving to as I go forward; to have back up options available given the seasonal nature some of this work. They have given me a sense of confidence and professionalism that quality training provides. I feel this has put my business on a much more solid footing, stimulating its growth and enhancing its reputation.
To find out about accessing fully funded training for employees through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme businesses can contact us.