Skills Support for the Workforce

Garston makes the most of fully funded training to support their business growth

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. Wise Ability 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. 

Garston Supplies Ltd is a privately owned independent Veterinary Group, currently with 5 small animal surgeries, equine and large animal and farm units. All out of hours patients are cared for by Garston’s own staff and with a dedicated night nurse team. 

Garston were first approached by Wise Ability in 2013 to offer fully funded training to staff (Business and Administration) and were delighted to have a further opportunity to work again with Wise Ability to offer training to staff in alternative areas (Customer Service and Team Leading). 

Jo Cummins, Wise Ability NVQ Assessor, advised and supported Garston to enable Management, Team Leaders and Receptionists to succeed in gaining Team Leading and Customer Service qualifications. This was at a time of growth for the business, and when several staff were new to their roles, thus keen to benefit from this learning process. Jo fully supported the staff throughout the process, recognising both the needs of the business and the needs of the individual. 

Cathy Appleton, Human Resource Manager at Garston said “Garston were able to offer our staff fully funded qualifications during the previous [SSW] contract 2013-2015. During this period the provider offered NVQ Level 2 in Business and Administration. We found the qualifications had a positive impact on staff efficiency in the workplace. The achievements helped raise staff moral and gave Garston the opportunity to demonstrate to our employees that they were valued.”

“We were delighted when the provider [Wise Ability] contacted us again and we have found that the qualifications offered this time suited more roles within the company. Some employees who achieved qualifications under the 2013/1015 contract were keen to work towards and achieve additional qualifications.”

Cathy said of the training “All qualifications are a Level 2, to date all of our employees have achieved their qualifications in the following vocational areas, all delivery is in the workplace. 

  • 10 employees have achieved a NVQ level 2 in Customer Service
  • 9 employees have achieved a NVQ Level 2 in team leading
  • 5 progressions onto a unit of Level 3 Business and Administration
  • 4 progressions onto a unit of Level 4 Management
  • 4 progressions in employment

We continually assess our training requirements within the organisation; we can contact Wise Ability at any time if we want new staff to work towards a qualification. Wise Ability will respond to any referrals in a prompt manner and new candidates are inducted within good time frames. 

The assessor has found it rewarding to identify candidates barriers who have had limited academic experience she has worked closely with employees and observed them growing in confidence and becoming more effective in their job roles. 

We have found the experience invaluable to support the continuing growth of the business and development and motivation of the staff. Several staff then when onto achieve further progressions within higher units and will be far better able to face the challenges and opportunities ahead. We look forward to introducing some new staff to this training in the New Year.”
To find out about accessing fully funded training for employees through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme businesses can contact us.

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