Skills Support for the Workforce

Devon & Plymouth Chamber

As an accredited member of the British Chambers of Commerce network and a membership organisation with over 200 years’ experience in the Devon economy, the Devon & Plymouth Chamber is an integral part of the regional business community and is committed to providing businesses with relevant and dynamic support and solutions, designed to help business owners meet the business challenges of the modern world.

The Chamber strives to be a strong, influential voice for all businesses, whether that be a start-up or sole trader, educational organisation or a large manufacturer.

As a membership organisation the challenge is to ensure that the business model is financially sustainable, by growing the number of members, as well as achieving the income derived from key events. Another challenge is getting the message out across the whole of Devon.  

How SSW helped

The Chamber knew about the SSW programme as Cornwall Marine Network (CMN), one of the training providers chosen to carry out the Skills Support for the Workforce programme, is a member of the Chamber.

Bespoke training

Lisa Hutchings, Skills Broker at CMN, met with Helen Hart, Head of Member Services at Devon & Plymouth Chamber, to discuss the business as a whole, including the structure and people, operations and challenges they face. The training needs analysis reviewed the training and development for employees, looking at the key skills required to be able to drive sales and bring marketing in-house to support the business needs and also help staff progress within the workplace.

These courses provided the fundamentals required to address the business needs, therefore 2 employees were enrolled:

  • Marketing Your Business – To provide the tools to improve the marketing strategy, grow business, by understanding your customers, as well as generating content when planning future marketing campaigns.
  • Making the Sale No Fear – To provide the techniques when managing sales, ensuring that employees have the information and research to back up products and/or services so that they can be confident when speaking to a prospective buyer.  To gain the skills to be effective across all sales and media channels.

As SSW is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), the Chamber was able to access the training at no cost.

The programme met the needs of the business as the training was delivered online via Zoom, over two half days, which allowed employees to train, as well as work for the remainder of the day.

The flexibility of the delivery meant that the content of the programmes was adapted for the Chamber, therefore the employees worked on tasks that were meaningful, relevant, and addressed the business needs.

The impact

As a result of the training, together the Chamber and employees achieved the following:

  • Bridged the skills gaps of employees, so that they are able to undertake key business tasks that continually improves membership experience and drive sales.
  • Changed processes associated with the membership, which has in turn improved efficiencies and productivity within the business.
  • An increase in responsibilities for both employees which has boosted morale and created a valued and empowered workforce who now have the knowledge for the future.

Daffne, who completed the ‘Marketing Your Business’ training, states:

“As a result of the training, I have more responsibility for the designing of digital marketing tools, which are used to promote the Chamber events. Without those skills, this element of work would have been outsourced. Not only has the Chamber invested in my skills, but they have also made a cost saving by bringing this in-house.”

Samantha who completed the “Making the Sale No Fear” workshop has also been able to apply her learning to run a successful campaign. Helen Hart says:

“Using the new skills, Sam has taken additional responsibility for driving sales, by designing, implementing and managing a digital membership campaign.  In the first four weeks this resulted in over 100 applications, with more than 50% conversion rate.”

The support has been of great benefit to the business and employees, and therefore the Chamber would support any future staff training needs.