Skills Support for the Workforce

Dorset's success story

The story

Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a programme developed to upskill employees within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Dorset. 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. Weymouth College is part of Serco’s network of expert organisations chosen to deliver the SSW programme in partnership with Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). SSW is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.


Kieron Howes started Dorset Cleaning Services in 2013 having identified a need for reliable, trustworthy contract cleaners in the South & West Dorset area. The cleaning industry locally has a reputation for poor service levels so Kieron saw his business idea as an opportunity to change that for the better. Starting with Kieron and his wife the company now employs 16 local staff and has contracts with Schools, Holiday Camps, Landlords and the former nuclear site at Winfrith. The business has grown organically, predominately through word of mouth and they pride themselves on giving a first class service to their customers.

The Challenge

Although they started small, the business has grown to a level where it now requires a more formal structure in terms of the individuals’ roles within the company and corresponding pay scales. Kieron has recognised the need to encourage retention of staff which traditionally is so difficult within the industry which often attracts transient workers. To achieve this Kieron is having to grow his teams’ skills through learning. Kieron’s aim is to create a workplace within which people will want to work; a workplace where there are clear progression routes and development opportunities for staff at all levels.


The Solution

Through consultation with the Skills Support for the Workforce Team at Weymouth College Kieran received information and advice regarding the extent of training options for his staff. Through guided discussion with his Training Consultant, Felicity Ayles, Kieron identified the areas of the business that needed to be reinforced and developed with training and a full training programme was agreed. The training has included COSHH, Manual Handling and First Aid to all staff and Kieron himself will be developing his own skills in accounting/bookkeeping Excel and Leadership and Management, as he is keen to learn how to tighten the monitoring of the finances of his business and to develop his staff management skills and techniques, building effective teams within the business.

All the staff at Dorset Cleaning Services Ltd met the criteria for free training from the Skills Support for the Workforce project and, starting in January 2017 the full training programme is being delivered by Weymouth College in the form of short bespoke courses and regulated qualifications certificated by nationally recognised awarding bodies. By the time all staff have completed their training, over 20 certificates of achievement will be awarded in all to the staff at Dorset Cleaning Services.

Delivering the Project

All staff have been enrolled on the relevant courses with a review agreed to identify any delegates who can undertake further training.

The Results

Kieron is expecting to see advancement of some staff once courses are completed. This will involve progression for a number of staff within the workplace through upgrades to Supervisor roles and Nominated First Aiders.

Kieron said of his experience “I had been thinking of training my team, but not really sure of how to go about it or how to meet the cost, so when I was approached by Weymouth College the offer was exactly what I needed. I’m sure that the training with help with staff retention”.

Adviser felicity said “We are delighted to be working with Dorset Cleaning Services, especially as they were one of the first local companies to come on board with the Skills Support for the Workforce project at Weymouth College. The nature of Kieron’s business and the individual circumstances of some of his staff are such that we have had to adapt the course delivery times to fit around the availability of the staff. It is thanks to the funding provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and working in partnership with Serco that the college is able to offer this kind of flexibility in the delivery of the training to Small and Medium sized businesses in Dorset”

Debbie Quine who took part in the training said“I really enjoyed the training. I never went to college, and I have now been twice in a month! It was really relaxed, and good refresher training. Gary was excellent.”

To find out about accessing fully funded training for employees through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme in Dorset businesses can contact apply now links to application form or Dorset region page).

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